Finder Energy identifies potential 150 million barrel oil resource at Whitsun prospect

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By Colin Hay - 
Finder Energy ASX FDR oil Whitsun prospect UK North Sea

Finder Energy (ASX: FDR) has announced that modern studies have upgraded the company’s large Whitsun prospect off the UK coast in the Central North Sea.

A detailed subsurface interpretation of newly reprocessed Big Buzz 3D data acquired from within the company’s P2528 Seaward production licence has identified a potential oil resource of up to 150 million barrels.

“The Big Buzz 3D reprocessing has exceeded expectations,” managing director Damon Neaves said.

“Finder has utilised the latest reprocessing and interpretation technologies to find subtle, stratigraphic traps analogous to the nearby giant Buzzard field. The leading prospect emerging from this work is the Whitsun prospect.”

“Whitsun is large, with an estimated mean prospective resource potential of 150 million gross. Undrilled prospects of this size are rare in mature basins and will likely attract significant interest from potential farm-in partners.”

Contiguous dataset now available

Finder’s now-completed in-depth evaluation of Whitsun took four vintage 3D surveys through a high-end processing flow to produce a final merged contiguous dataset over both licences and surrounding analogous oil fields.

With companies like Striker now utilising modern advances in seismic acquisition and interpretation technology, the identification of stratigraphic traps has improved greatly and the industry has experienced increasing success drilling these targets as well as making discoveries in areas that had previously been passed over.

In Finder’s case, the new Buzz 3D assessment results have provided a significant improvement in imaging at the target objectives and opened up a large new opportunity.

Buzzard analogue big news

P2528 is located immediately south of the Ettrick sub-basin that contains the prolific stratigraphic traps of the Buzzard and Golden Eagle fields.

Estimated to contain 1 billion barrels of oil, Buzzard is considered one of the largest North Sea oil discoveries in the modern era.

Finder says the discovery at Buzzard in 2001 demonstrated the potential of stratigraphic traps to open up new and significant resource potential in mature regions like the Central North Sea.

Its mapping of Whitsun using the Big Buzz 3D analysis has shown similar seismic reflectivity and geometries, interpreted as mass flow channels and turbidites in the Buzzard field area.

Ideal location

Notably, recently-completed basin modelling simulations have shown that Whitsun is ideally located for hydrocarbon charge and is adjacent to the early mature source kitchen within the Peterhead Graben, which contains rich oil source rocks units within the Kimmeridge clay shales.

The presence of an active source rock in the basin has also been proven by the location of oil columns and shows in offset wells.

Whitsun is also advantaged by its location near the China National Offshore Oil Corporation-operated Buzzard field development infrastructure, which includes four linked platforms with wellhead facilities for 27 production wells.

The company believes this offers an opportunity for any commercial-sized Whitsun discovery to be tied back to those facilities which are located approximately 20km to the north.

Farm-out plans boosted

Finder, which will now utilise the new data to undertake a further farm-out campaign, says new initiatives unveiled in the recently announced 2023 autumn statement have provided greater clarity on the UK government’s short, medium and long-term commitments to support investment in the oil and gas sector.

The company says the UK government’s stance provides greater certainty around the expiry of its Energy Profits Levy and the Investment Allowance.

This is expected to lead to greater stability and shore up investment in the sector.

“These announcements have positive implications for Finder’s farm-out strategy in the UK,” Mr Neaves said.

Evaluation of additional prospectivity in the P2528 and P2527 licences through the Big Buzz 3D reprocessed data is ongoing.