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UK approves Serica-operated Columbus offshore natural gas field development

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London — The UK has approved the development plan for the Serica Energy-operated Columbus gas and condensate field in the Central North Sea, the company said Wednesday, the latest in a string of approvals for gas fields in the region.

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Columbus is expected to produce a total of 7,800 b/d of oil equivalent -- 1.2 million cu m/d in gas terms -- at peak. Production is expected to begin in mid-2021.

The green light for Columbus follows FIDs taken by Shell for its Arran and Fram gas fields in October and June, respectively, in the Central North Sea.

"Columbus is the final component of the UK Oil and Gas Authority's Central Graben Area Plan, which also included the recently sanctioned Fram and Arran fields, unlocking over 50 million boe recoverable reserves which had struggled for decades to be developed," the authority's CEO Andy Samuel said Wednesday.

The Columbus field will be drained by a single well, which will be connected to the recently approved Arran-Shearwater pipeline, through which Columbus production will be exported along with Arran field production.

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When the production reaches the Shearwater platform facilities, it will be separated into gas and liquids and exported to terminals onshore, Serica said.

Columbus development timing is dependent on the Arran-Shearwater pipeline being tied into the Shearwater platform in Q3 2020, with Columbus field startup targeted for mid-2021.

"The development is important in its own right and will also enhance our understanding of nearby exploration acreage which was secured by Serica in the UK 30th Licence Round," Serica CEO Mitch Flegg said.

Serica operates Columbus with a 50% interest. Its partners are EOG Resources and Endeavour Energy, each with 25%.

"We are pleased with the decision by Serica and partners, EOG Resources and Endeavour Energy, to proceed with their investment in the Columbus development," Samuel said.

--Stuart Elliott, stuart.elliott@spglobal.com

--Edited by James Leech, james.leech@spglobal.com