Four years ago BP was forecasting production from the huge Forties Field in the North Sea would become uneconomic by the mid nineties and progressive shutdown would commence around 1995-96 with the last platform being decommissioned by the year 2000.

A challenge was set to extend the life of the field through to 2010, and as a result of a major review by BP of the cost efficiency of its operations the challenge is beginning to be met. Forties production can now remain viable for much longer than expected in 1989, even after a fall in oil price from $25 to $18 per barrel. Not least of the influences making this extended life expectancy possible are the cost advantages promoted by an innovative Partnering venture between BP as operating company and Brown & Root as contractor.

The Forties Oil Field was discovered in 1970, 110 miles ENE of Aberdeen in 110 metres of water. Recoverable reserves were then estimated at 1.8 billion barrels. Four platforms were designed, constructed and installed and first oil was produced in September in 1975. Peak production of 500,000 barrels per day was reached in May 1978. A fifth platform was installed in 1986 and the 2 billionth barrel of oil was produced in April 1989, an achievement far in excess of original predictions. The estimate for recoverable reserves today stands at 2.5 billion barrels with the current production rate being 140 mbd.

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