Fast-track Vixen gas field on stream

Conoco Inc.'s North Sea E&P arm, Conoco UK, yesterday brought its subsea Vixen natural gas development on stream ahead of schedule, under budget, and�at 140 MMscf/d�at higher daily flow rate than originally planned.


LONDON�Conoco Inc.'s North Sea E&P arm, Conoco UK, yesterday brought its subsea Vixen natural gas development on stream ahead of schedule, under budget, and�at 140 MMscf/d�at higher daily flow rate than originally planned.

To first flow 2 months earlier than anticipated and at �24 million�some 11% under budget�the oil company said the field development, located in 33 m of water on Block 49/17 in the southern North Sea, was "distinguished by the speed, efficiency, and economy with which it was completed," said Conoco.

"It only took 16 months from the time of discover to achieve first production," said Vixen Project Manager Jeff Barnes. "It was made possible by a combination of the knowledge and experience gained by Conoco during many years of operating in the area."

Vixen is being produced via a single subsea well developed by re-entering the field's discovery well and completing a 49� sidetrack through the reservoir; gas is to be transported by pipeline 8.6 km to Conoco's Viking B central complex, and then on through the Viking Transportation System to the Theddlethorpe Gas Terminal on the east coast of England.

Vixen is thought to contain some 117 bscf of natural gas and have a field life of 6 years�though Conoco believes that "optimal reservoir management" could lead to a significantly higher gas yield and that the field's lifespan could be extended "considerably."

Conoco and BP have a 50-50 interest in the field, where Conoco is operator.

Meanwhile, Conoco was laureled with the title of top-ranking E&P company for the second year running following the announcement of the results of a recent Prudential Securities survey (see story in today's Top Stories section). The US-based oil major place first among 13 integrated energy companies based on 9 criteria�ranging from production income, quality of earnings, cash flow, production replacement ratios and upstream returns�during 1995-99, according to the Prudential report.

Conoco Executive Vice-Pres. for E&P Rob McKee said the results were "very gratifying and further evidence the [the company] could find, develop, and produce oil and natural gas reserves as competitively as anyone in the industry."

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