First oil from the field was produced by the BW Catcher FPSO in December 2017. Credit: BW Offshore.
BW Catvher has a processing capacity of 60,000bpd. Credit: Cairn Energy PLC.
Produced oil is offloaded from the FPSO by tankers and gas is reinjected into the reservoir. Credit: Cairn Energy PLC.

The Catcher Area Development involves the combined development of the Catcher, Varadero and Burgman fields located on Blocks 28/9a and 28/10c of production license P140 in the UK Central North Sea.

Premier Oil operates the field with 50% working interest. The other partners include Cairn Energy, MOL Group and Dyas with stakes of 20%, 20% and 10%, respectively. Premier initially acquired its interest in the area with the acquisition of Oilexco in 2009 and became operator after acquiring EnCore Oil in 2012.

The project’s development concept was agreed upon between the partners in December 2012, with the field development plan (FDP) submitted to the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change in late-2013 and approval received in June 2014.

The development involves an estimated gross total capital expenditure of $1.6bn. The first oil production from the field was achieved in December 2017. The field will have a lifespan of more than ten years.

Discovery, geology and reserves of Catcher

Catcher was discovered in August 2010, followed by Varadero in January 2011 and Burgman in March 2011. Two additional fields Carnaby and Bonneville were discovered in June 2012 and April 2013 respectively.

The latter two fields are also expected to be tied back to the Catcher field development in the future. Bonneville is expected to hold 30 million barrels of oil while Carnaby is estimated to hold 28 million barrels.

Hydrocarbons in the area are located within Tay and Cromarty sands of the Late Palaeocene / early Eocene turbidite ages.

The first three fields are estimated to hold 96 million barrels of oil equivalent (MMboe) and are expected to produce 50,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd) at peak, accounting for approximately 6% of the overall production from the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS).

UK Catcher field development details

The Catcher Area development comprises 19 subsea production and water injection wells on Catcher, Varadero and Burgman fields. All the wells were tied back to the leased BW Offshore’s floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel, BW Catcher.

A riser system was provided for each well to allow production from the field and enable subsea tie-back.

Six drill centre templates (DCT) weighing 100t each with piping manifolds were laid at the site to enable drilling of the wells and eliminate the need for rig moves for each cluster of wells.

Produced oil is offloaded from the FPSO by tankers and gas is reinjected into the reservoir. The average gross production from the Catcher Area in 2020 was 50,200bpd.

FPSO details

The BW Catcher has a length of 240m, a width of 50m and a depth of 27m. Weighing over 56,000t, the FPSO has a processing capacity of 60,000bopd and a storage capacity of 650,000 barrels (bbl). The vessel can accommodate up to 120 workers and has a design life of 20 years with continuous operations.

Contractors involved

BW Offshore delivered and installed the BW Catcher FPSO and mooring system. It will operate the unit throughout the charter period of seven years, which is extendable up to 18 years. The $2.3bn contract also includes the front-end engineering (FEED) study for the project.

IHI Corporation of Japan was subcontracted by BW Offshore to construct the hull of the FPSO, equipped with accommodation facilities and a helideck. The hull was constructed at its Aichi Works facility in Japan.

The subcontract to carry out the engineering services for the FPSO’s topsides modules weighing approximately 7,800t was awarded to Aibel of Singapore.

The engineering, procurement, installation, and commissioning (EPIC) contract for the subsea facilities, worth more than $460m, was awarded to Subsea7. The contract entails three pipeline bundles incorporating its patented Butting Bimetal (BuBi) mechanically lined pipe, a riser system for the FPSO unit, and installation of a 10in and 60km gas export/import pipeline.

The £10m ($16.967m) contract for the design and construction of the six DCTs was awarded to Aquaterra Energy. Xodus Group was awarded the £1.3m ($2.205m) contract to assist in the subsea FEED study.