BP suspends operations at Rhum field in North Sea

BP PLC said it is taking measures to shut a UK North Sea natural gas field it jointly owns with Iran, confirming a warning last month that new European sanctions could interrupt the operation.

Eric Watkins
OGJ Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 11 -- BP PLC said it is taking measures to shut a UK North Sea natural gas field it jointly owns with Iran, confirming a warning last month that new European sanctions could interrupt the operation.

“Pending clarification from the government and to ensure we comply with the required notification period in the regulations, preparations to suspend production are under way,” BP said, adding, “From the middle of next week there will be no production from Rhum.”

Last month, European Commission officials said new sanctions against Iran, which took effect Oct. 27, would likely lead to the closure of the gas field, which lies 390 km northeast of Scotland, and has been jointly developed by BP and National Iranian Oil Co. since 2003 (OGJ Online, Oct. 27, 2010).

Closure of Rhum field follows an earlier announcement by BP that it was awarded license interests in seven offshore exploration blocks in the UK’s 26th Seaward Licencing Round.

“The awards—five blocks operated by BP and two blocks operated by a partner—together represent the largest licence award BP has received in the UK for more than a decade,” the firm said last week.

BP said the awards, made by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change, support the firm’s focused program of exploration and appraisal in the North Sea. It said the strategy is based on developing new fields which can be tied in to BP’s existing infrastructure hubs.

The blocks awarded include: 16/24a, Kinnoull area, central North Sea; 22/20b, ETAP area, central North Sea; 22/30e, Culzean area, operated by Maersk, central North Sea; 23/26e, Culzean area, operated by Maersk, central North Sea; 30/1a, Kessog area, central North Sea; 47/10c, West Sole SNS area, southern North Sea; and 48/6c, West Sole SNS area, southern North Sea.

Including the seven blocks awarded to BP, the licensing round saw Britain's Department of Energy and Climate Change offering 144 licenses to 83 companies for 268 blocks in the North Sea.

"Whilst in the long term, we want to de-carbonize our energy system, we have moved swiftly to offer these licenses as we must realize the optimum value from the UK's energy resources and ensure secure energy supplies," said Energy Minister Charles Hendry (OGJ Online, Nov. 8, 2010).

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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