Maersk Oil has started drilling of the first production well on Culzean field in the UK North Sea.

Drilled by Maersk Highlander through a wellhead platform (WHP) jacket, the well is the first of six production wells to be drilled on the high-pressure / high-temperature field.

The company is planning continuous drilling activity over the next five years and first gas from Culzean is expected to be produced in 2019.

Acquired by Maersk Drilling earlier this year, the Highlander rig is a newbuild and has a five-year contract valued at about $420m.

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 programme on this critical project for Maersk and the UK.”

Upon installation of the three platform topsides, upper half of the structures, above sea in 2018 and hook-up in 2019, three of six production wells will be ready for first gas.

"This is an important milestone in ensuring that we can deliver Culzean on schedule."

The WHP jacket and WAD were constructed in the Netherlands and Hartlepool, UK, and the wellhead topsides construction will continue in Singapore.

More than 30 UK-based well services companies will support the drilling campaign.

Maersk Oil operates the Culzean development with a 49.99% interest. Other partners are BP (32%) and JX Nippon (18.01%).

The field has resources estimated at 250 million to 300 million barrels of oil equivalent. The UK Oil & Gas Authority approved the Culzean project in August last year.

Image: The Culzean field is located in the UK North Sea. Photo: courtesy of  Maersk Group.