Maersk Oil has commenced drilling of the first production well at the £3bn ($4.5bn) Culzean gas field located in License P111 of the UK Continental Shelf.

Located in the UK North Sea at a depth of approximately 90m, the Culzean development is expected to reach peak production capacity of 400 to 500 million standard cubic feet per day (MMSCFD).

The first production well is being drilled through a wellhead platform (WHP) jacket and well access deck (WAD).

The project partners are planning to complete drilling of six production wells on the high pressure/high temperature (HPHT) field over the next five years with first gas planned in 2019.

Maersk Oil CEO Gretchen Watkins said: “This is an important milestone in ensuring that we can deliver Culzean on schedule, and with it 5% of UK gas demand in 2020/21.

“It’s great to have Maersk Drilling as a partner and together we are working to ensure a safe drilling program on this critical project for Maersk and the UK.”

Maersk Oil owns 49.99% stake in the field, while other partners include JX Nippon with 18.01% interst and BP subsidiary Britoil with 32% stake.

Prior to drilling at the field, Maersk Drilling and Maersk Oil carried out drilling on a digital ‘virtual well’, using a drilling simulator at Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University.

Culzean wells delivery manager Andrew Lough said: “Working on a virtual rig, designed to look and feel like the Maersk Highlander has been invaluable.

“It has enabled us to prepare in a very lifelike environment for the drilling campaign, which will contribute to a safe and efficient drilling operation that will be an important milestone in developing the largest new field discovered in the UK North Sea for more than a decade.”

Upon installation of three topsides in 2018 and hooked up in 2019, the first three production wells will be ready to produce first gas.

Image: The Maersk Oil and Drilling team spuds the first production well at the Culzean field offshore UK. Photo: courtesy of Maersk Oil.