Cape Vulture oil field is planned to be developed as a tie-back to the Norne FPSO. Photo: Anne-Mette Fjærli.
The Cape Vulture oil field lies in the PL128/128D in North Sea, Norway. Image courtesy of Equinor ASA.
Development of the Cape Vulture oil field will help in extending the life of the Norne field. Image courtesy of Kenneth Engelsvold/Statoil.

The Cape Vulture oil field is located in production licence (PL) 128/128D in the northern part of the North Sea, Norway.

The field lies 200km west of Sandnessjøen, off the coast of Nordland, and 7km from the Norne field in a water depth of 375m.

The PL128/128D is jointly owned by Equinor (64%, operator), Petoro (24.5%), and Eni (11.5%). The partners concluded appraisal activities on the field in October 2018 and are currently evaluating development options.

Cape Vulture oil field discovery, geology, and reserves

The Cape Vulture oil field was discovered by the 6608/10-17S wildcat well drilled in 2017 by the Deepsea Bergen drilling rig.

The discovery well encountered oil and gas in two zones of the Lower Cretaceous reservoir of the Lange formation. It established the presence of petroleum reserves on the Nordland Ridge of the North Sea.

Cape Vulture is estimated to hold between 50 and 70 million barrels of recoverable oil.

Cape Vulture oil field appraisal

Equinor drilled one appraisal well named 6608/10-18 and two sidetracks, 6608/10-18 A and 6608/10-18 B, in 2017 on the Cape Vulture oil field. The wells were drilled by the Songa Encourage drilling rig to depths of 3,437m, 3,114m and 3,256m.

The appraisal well was drilled to delineate the discovery and evaluate the presence of a third reservoir zone. It reached the Melke Formation of Middle Jurassic Age and discovered oil in three reservoir zones of the Cretaceous Lange formation.

The 6608/10-18 well encountered oil in a 2m-thick sandstone layer in the deepest zone with good reservoir properties. The 6608/10-18 A sidetrack well encountered a 10m oil column in the upper zone with good to very good reservoir properties.

Oil columns of 15m-10m thickness were encountered in the 6608/10-18 and 6608/10-18 A wells in the middle zone with moderate to good reservoir properties.

Cape Vulture oil field development details

The Cape Vulture oil field is currently in the early phase of development planning and is intended to be developed through the Norne floating, production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel.

The field will enable the production life of the Norne field to be extended to 2036 and double the oil reserves. Potential for additional reserves from the Cape Vulture field is also anticipated, which will help in boosting the life of the Norne field.

Equinor also plans to carry out additional exploration activities in the production license to potentially tie-back to the Norne field. The company secured consent from the Petroleum Safety Authority of Norway in December 2018 for the extension of the Norne FPSO and other facilities until December 2026.

Details of drilling infrastructure

The discovery well was drilled by the Deepsea Bergen semi-submersible drilling rig, which is owned by Odfjell Drilling. The rig can operate in water depths of 1,500ft and has a variable deck load capacity of 3,500t.

Deepsea Bergen is equipped with a 650t single derrick and three mud pumps of 5,000psi. The rig has an accommodation capacity of 110.

The appraisal wells were drilled by the Songa Encourage rig, which is owned and operated by Transocean. The rig is 116m-long and 97m-wide and has a maximum draft of 25.15m. It can operate in maximum water depths of 500m and has a variable deck load capacity of 4,000t.

Songa Encourage has a hook load capacity of 680t and fuel oil capacity of 2,600m³. It is also equipped with two Liebherr BOS 4200 cranes, 50ft-long marine riser, one BOP annular and three mud pumps with a working pressure of 7,500psi.