1. New UK energy minister Mike O'Brien offered 97 new offshore licenses to 58 companies including 15 newcomers in the UK's 22nd offshore licensing round, which offered acreage throughout the North Sea and West of the Shetland Islands. The round featured 58 promote style licenses encouraging quick acreage evaluation, seven frontier licenses covering the West of Shetlands, and a further 32 traditional licenses covering 163 offshore blocks in total. Additionally the government offered 26 onshore exploration licenses.

2. ChevronTexaco's Lochnagar/
Rosebank exploration well in Block 213/27a west of Shetland was completed after spudding July 10 as a tight hole. It was drilled with the West Navigator in a water depth of 3,674 ft (1,120 m).

3. Total confirmed a gas discovery with its Laggan appraisal program. Two appraisals were drilled in 1,968 ft (600 m) water depth on the 206/4AZ well 75 miles (120 km) west of the Shetland Islands which tested at 37.8 MMcf of gas per day. "Information is present being analyzed and will be integrated into the necessary studies for the final decision for the development of Laggan," Total said. Total operated the well with 50% and partners were DONG Norge, ENI and ChevronTexaco.

4. BG said it is doing post well evaluation on its 204/21-1 Bedlington, which was completed Sept. 26. The well spudded on Aug. 22 with the Eirik Raude, which was operating in a water depth of 2,824 ft (861 m), aiming for a planned measured depth of 12,936 ft (3,944 m).

5. OilExCo recommenced appraisal of its estimated 150-million-bbl Outer Moray Firth Brenda oil discovery with a planned three-well cluster program. Operations began Sept. 27 with Transocean's John Shaw semisubmersible drilling the 15/25e-11, the fifth appraisal (the seventh including sidetracks) on the discovery. Two further wells, 11z, 0.8 miles (1.25 km) west of the original drill location and 11y, 0.625 miles (1 km) northwest of the original location, will be drilled as slim-hole wells over 45 days. A further three appraisals are also planned northwest of 15/25e11. Brenda produced 3,351 b/d of 40? API oil on test in July 2004.

6. Paladin Resources submitted a plan for development of the Brechin field in Block 22/23a. Discovered with the May 2004 22/23a-7 exploration well, Paladin plans to tap Brechin with a single production well tied back 2.1 miles (3.4 km) to the Arkwright field subsea manifold, then to the Montrose Alpha platform for processing. Production drilling was due to begin this month through to April 2005 and first oil is anticipated in June 2005 at 2,413 b/d of oil at peak.

7. Total E&P UK awarded Aker Kværner Offshore Partner (AKOP) a 5-year US $63-million contract for operations and maintenance services at the Central North Sea Elgin/Franklin fields in Block 22/30b and at Total's St. Fergus gas terminal which receives 20% of the UK's gas production. AKOP begins the contract January 2005.

8. Talisman Energy received approval for its US $563 million four-well development of its Tweedsmuir and Tweedsmuir South discoveries with subsea tieback to its operated Piper B platform 34 miles (55 km) to the north, exporting to the Flotta oil terminal on the Orkney Islands. Drilling is planned for 2005 and first oil is scheduled for 2006 with 40,000 b/d of oil at plateau from the 21/1a north block. Talisman estimates the fields contain 71 million boe - 87% liquids and 13% gas - in probable reserves and more subject to further evaluation.

9. Venture Production with Dana Petroleum has received development approval for the Gadwall field in the Central North Sea in Block 21/19 via the Kittiwake platform - now operated by Venture after buying it from Shell in 2003. Venture said Gadwall, estimated to contain 7.7 million boe in proven and probable reserves, will be its first incremental development from its Greater Kittiwake area, and will be exploited via a single discovery well, 21/19-6, drilled in by Shell in 1996 and suspended. First production is planned by February 2005 and a water injector may be drilled the same year.

10. Walter UK E&P was due to spud a Block 30/28b-2 exploration well with the Stena Spey at the end of September using GlobalSantaFe's ADTI as drilling contractor.
The well targeting a Jurassic oil prospect in partnership with Challenger Minerals (CMI).
11. Shell commenced an appraisal on its Phyllis prospect with the 23/16b-aa well, operating with the Sedco 711 rig on Sept. 3 in a water depth of 280 ft (85 m) near the ETAP and Pierce fields.

12. Newfield Exploration was operating on its Block 49/4b Cumbria exploration well with a target of 11,800-ft (3,599-m) total vertical depth subsea (TVDSS) in Rotliegendes Leman sandstone with the Ensco 80 jackup, using Applied Drilling Technology International as well operator. Drilling was due to complete in early October. The well was on acreage awarded in the 21st licensing round. Work commenced after Newfield paid US $1 million for mega-merged 3-D seismic survey data supplied by PGS and then spent 18 months mapping the Southern Gas basin, according to North Sea research by Sanders Morris Harris in Houston. Newfield Petroleum UK already operates several nearby blocks P523 (49/8a), P900 (49/8b), P132 (49/9a), P901 (49/9c), P083 (49/10a) and P851 (49/13b) - all with 100%. Newfield also has 20% equity in the onstream Windermere field (49/9b), and 40.3% in the 49/4a Chiswick discovery. Newfield plans a second follow-on well with the Ensco 80 on Block 49/10a to appraise the Grove undeveloped discovery. This will likely be followed by a third well in the BP-operated West Sole area of the Southern Gas Basin (SGB).  An additional two to three wells are planned in the SGB during 2005, Newfield said.

13. Tullow and BG were drilling the P4 Zeta prospect with the 53/3a-7 well spudded on Sept. 6 near Shell's Leman field area. Tullow also approved a West Boulton well for late 2004.

14. BG was reported to be testing its 16/29a-13z Maria prospect with the Sedco 714 jackup operating in a water depth of 295 ft (100 m) after drilling to a planned total depth of 13,799 ft (4,207 m) aiming for Fulmar and Pentland sands. The well, northwest of the Hawkins field within the Armada area, was originally spudded June 29.

15. Talisman spudded a 14/20-32 Cardhu exploration well with the Ocean Princess on Sept. 1 operating in 476-ft (145-m) water depth.

16. Kerr-McGee completed a five-block asset deal with BP for an undisclosed sum in the Central North Sea area. Kerr-McGee acquired 66% of Block 22/25a excluding the Mirren and Merganser discoveries; 50% of 23/26as (excluding Machar and Erskine fields); and 50% each of 30/1a and 30/1e, plus a non-operated 65% stake in Block 25/15. The company is already planning development of its James field discovery as a subsea tieback to the Janice platform in Block 30/17a with first production due early 2005. First oil from two other deposits, Affleck and Donan, is expected mid 2006, the company said. Terence Jupp, Kerr-McGee's UK managing director, said the deal bolstered commitment to exploration in the Central North Sea. "These blocks are located near existing infrastructure, which would allow for economical development of future discoveries," he added.

17. Petroleum Geo-Services subsidiary Pertra planned to drill on the Villmink prospect in PL038 4.5 miles (7 km) southeast of its operated Varg field, operating with Odfjell Drilling's Deepsea Trym semisubmersible starting in October. "Pertra believes there are a number of possibilities for building additional reserves around the Varg field. This well is the first step towards exploiting these possibilities," the company stated.
Pertra owns the license with 70% and state license holder Petoro has 30%. 

18. Revus Energy revealed plans to tap the Delta oil discovery near the Murchison oil field close to the median line with the United Kingdom. Revus acquired a 78.125% stake in the 33/9-6 discovery made in 1976 in PL 037D - carved out of the existing Murchison license area - from Petoro in a bigger asset deal in June with Esso, ConocoPhillips and Shell in which it acquired 10.68% of the Norwegian sector of Murchison. Revus said it would work towards tapping Delta by drilling from the existing Murchison platform.

19. Statoil made long-term commitments to time lapse Q-seismic surveys over the Norne and Heidrun fields in the Norwegian Sea under a deal with WesternGeco. The agreement makes WesternGeco Statoil's preferred contractor for Q-technology time-lapse surveys for Norne over the next 5 years and 6 years over Heidrun.
Previous Q-surveys - WesternGeco's proprietary time-lapse seismic survey technology - have been performed on Norne in 2001, 2003 and 2004, and on Heidrun in 2001 and 2004. The surveys entail using the same acquisition parameters as previously, so time-lapse data can be acquired to inform future production planning.

20. DONG completed drilling Vivi 1/Vivi 1a 56055/10-5 exploration well, reaching a total vertical depth (TVD) of 5,666 ft (1,727 m) with the Ensco 70 jackup operating in a water depth of 184 ft (56 m). The well was plugged and abandoned, said the Danish Energy Authority.

21. Germany, Denmark and Sweden are due to be hooked up by a new Baltic Gas Interconnector (BGI) pipeline to be built by the three nations. Interfax said the three states had received all necessary government permits to build the 131-mile (210-km) line from Rostock, Germany, to Trelleborg, Sweden, with a spur to Copenhagen in Denmark.

22. Operator Providence Resources is considering a second appraisal well in 2005 on the estimated 600 million bbl Blackrock prospect. Providence previously drilled the IRL49/26-1A discovery well in the Irish Celtic Sea covered by Licensing Option 03/1 due south of Marathon's Kinsale Head gas field. Logging was completed Aug. 24 after the well reached 6,250 ft (1,905 m) subsea with Transocean's Stena Dee semisubmersible operating in a water depth of 359 ft (100 m). Although the hole operated tight, Providence said the well encountered a good sandstone reservoir with hydrocarbon shows and associated seal development in three of five pre-drill target horizons. Results from the well, 5 miles (8 km) east of a 1973 IRL 48/30 exploration well drilled by Esso and Marathon, will be further analyzed before a further exploration hole is drilled, Providence said, which will likely be 1.25 miles (2 km) north of the existing drill location. Providence operated the discovery well with 41.5% and partners were Challenger Minerals and Palace Exploration with 50% and UK-listed Midmar Energy with 8.5%.