RPS provided a full range of HSE services in support of the Loanan Exploration well situated approximately 82 km north-west of the Shetland Islands. The Loanan well was a deep-water vertical exploration well drilled in 700 metres of water to a depth of over 14,000 feet TVDSS. Over a period of approximately 18 months we provided environmental impact assessment support, oil spill contingency planning, waste management planning and full environmental permitting support.
Loanan Exploration Well
JX Nippon Exploration and Production U.K. Limited
UK, West of Shetland
The key challenges of the project were associated with the environmental impact assessment. The west of Shetland area is less well known than other areas of the North Sea and therefore gathering baseline information from available existing data sources, including the well site survey, was of importance. The well was located within the Faroe-Shetland Sponge Belt Marine Protected Area (MPA) and therefore robust impact assessment upon the key features of the MPA was a key concern of the EIA. A possible area of methane derived authigenic carbonate (MDAC) located 1,950 metres to the north-east of the proposed well location was also identified during the site survey.
The EIA baseline was researched using the latest available information from both the public domain and from previous well site surveys in the wider region. The EIA utilised the Feature Activity Sensitivity Tool (FEAST) to formally assess the impact on the MPA features, as well as detailed drill cuttings dispersion modelling to assess the spatial extent of the cuttings pile to determine potential impact on seabed features. Once the EIA was approved, the basis was used to inform other permitting documentation, including the CMAPP, OPEP, and EIA justification for chemical permitting.
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