The Argyll field came onstream in June 1975 and produced the first oil from the United Kingdom Continental Shelf (UKCS). The floating production concept adopted for the field demonstrated an innovative cost efficient approach to developing a marginal field. The initial field life expectancy was three to five years and cost sensitivity was embraced as the only viable way to ensure that the field survived longer than originally forecast.
This paper reviews some of the Argyll field innovations from initial design into ongoing operations and on through to abandonment. Technical solutions which result in low capital investment but then give higher than preferred operational costs, do not necessarily result in reduced field life. A "Tight' approach to operational cost control is vital in the early years of a field's life so that later year cost control is a natural progression and not a desperate rearguard action.
Cost control is a state of mind and must be engendered into the Ethos of a company. The question, why?, is probably the most powerful tool that any individual can apply in the approval process, no matter the level of that approval. Expenditure approval set at an appropriate level coupled with staff committed to a continuous search for improvement, results in an operations group which manages their own business, This level of understanding acts on market changes rather than reacting to change, thus resulting in true cost control.
Hamilton Oil Company Ltd. (Hamilton Brothers Oil and Gas) was Operator of the Argyll field in Block 30/24 of the UKCS in conjunction with other field owners, Elf Enterprise (Caledonia) Ltd., Texaco North Sea UK Ltd., Lasmo (ULX) Ltd., and Monument Resources., from first oil in June 1975 to last oil in October 1992. During that period two satellite fields were added to the Argyll system, Duncan in 1981 and Innes in 1985.
The initial, albeit uncertain, reservoir assessment of recoverable oil for the Argyll area was 25 million barrels over 5 years. Argyll ultimately produced 73 million barrels, Duncan produced 19 million barrels and Innes produced 5 million barrels. The total production from the field complex was 97 million barrels of oil over a 17 year period.