The Sea Lion development will involve the use of a FPSO vessel. (Credit: Berardo62/ Wikipedia)
The partners are expected to reach a final investment decision (FID) on the project in 2024. (Credit: Jon Olav Eikenes/ Wikipedia)
The Sea Lion field was discovered in 2010. (Credit: Image by C Morrison from Pixabay)

The Sea Lion Oil Field is located in Block 14/10, in hydrocarbon licence area PL032, offshore the Falkland Islands, in the South Atlantic Ocean. The water depth in the region is approximately 450m.

Israel-based Navitas Petroleum (Navitas) operates the oil field with 65% interest, while UK-based company Rockhopper Exploration (Rockhopper) holds the remaining 35% stake.

The partners are expected to reach a final investment decision (FID) on the project in 2024.

The Sea Lion field will be developed in multiple phases. Capital expenditure (capex) for the first phase is estimated to be approximately $1.8bn.

Sea Lion Field Discovery and Background Details

The Sea Lion field was discovered in 2010 and appraised in 2011. The asset, situated around 220km to the north of the Falkland Islands, was said to be the first commercially viable hydrocarbon discovery in the North Falkland Basin (NFB).

In July 2012, Premier acquired 60% of Rockhopper’s licence interests in the Falkland Islands, including the Sea Lion Development.

A draft Field Development Plan (FDP) for the project was submitted for discussion with the Falkland Islands Government (FIG) in November 2017.

The Sea Lion project’s front end engineering design (FEED) concluded in 2019 and the Environmental Impact Assessment was completed in 2020.

In March 2021, Premier merged with Chrysaor to create Harbour. Navitas signed a detailed Heads of Terms agreement to acquire Harbour’s interest in the project, after Harbour abandoned plans to advance with the project.

In April 2022, Navitas confirmed acquiring Harbour’s 65% interest in the Sea Lion project. The transaction closed in September 2022 after receiving all necessary regulatory consents.

In March 2023, Navitas published an update on Sea Lion development progress including an independent resource report that stated a lower upfront capex, reduced life of field costs and increased recoverable resources.

Appraisal and Reserves

Following the discovery of the Sea Lion Field in May 2010 with well 14/10-2, the area was appraised by eight wells (and two sidetracks).

The move helped in delineating the extent of the Sea Lion accumulation and proved the presence of hydrocarbons in three younger discoveries- Casper, Casper South and Beverley.

According to an independent audit, Sea Lion is expected to contain 500 million barrels of 2C recoverable resources.

The field contains oil and gas in underground sandstone rocks around 2.5km below the seabed.

Phase I and II 2C resources total 269 million barrels of oil (mmbbls). The field is projected to have a field life of 20 years.

Sea Lion Development Plan

According to the revised plan, the Sea Lion project will be developed in a phased manner.

The Phase I development plan proposes to drill 18 wells, out of which 11 will be drilled pre-first oil.

Five additional wells are planned to be drilled in Phase II, approximately 42 months after first oil.

The revised plan is developed assuming that the project will lease a Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel. The wells drilled later will also be tied back to the FPSO to extend the production plateau.

The production is estimated to reach approximately 80,000 barrels per day (bbls/day) at plateau.

Sea Lion FPSO

The FPSO will be anchored to the seabed and will be connected to the subsea wells, via the manifolds and the pipelines, umbilicals and risers via a process called Hook Up and Commissioning (HUC).

Following a period of HUC, hydrocarbons from the offshore oil field will be exported to the ship-shaped FPSO.

Oil production and processing will be carried out onboard the FPSO to stabilise the oil before export.

The oil, gas and water from the production will be separated and treated on the FPSO.

The crude oil export will be executed via Direct Offtake, which means the crude oil will be directly offloaded from the FPSO to a purchaser’s Conventional Trading Tanker (CTT) at the Sea Lion location and from there the crude will be exported to market.

The associated gas produced by the project will be used to power the FPSO. The gas produced by Sea Lion will also be used as ‘gas lift’ in the oil production wells to reduce the density of the oil to boost flowrate.

After HUC, Sea Lion is expected to achieve first oil around 42 months following project sanction.

Contractors Involved

In January 2016, SBM Offshore was awarded the Front-End Engineering and Design (FEED) contract for an FPSO for Phase I of Sea Lion development.

RPS, a Tetra Tech company, was engaged to provide Biostratigraphic (palynology and ostracods) and chemical stratigraphic analysis for the project.

In February 2016, Rockhopper awarded Subsea 7 a contract for the subsea installation, National Oilwell Varco (NOV) for the flexible flowlines, and One Subsea for the subsea production system.