Alba is located in block 16 / 26, 130 miles north-east of Aberdeen. The field lies in a water depth of approximately 138m. Alba was discovered by Chevron in 1984 and with final commissioning and first oil in January 1994. The field contains an estimated total oil-in-place reserves of approximately one billion barrels and has recoverable reserves of around 400 million barrels.
Field developments were carried out in two phases. The first involved the installation of a fixed steel platform with integrated production, drilling and living quarters.
This, the Alba Northern Platform (ANP), was used to develop the northern sector of the field. Oil is exported via the Alba floating storage unit (FSU) – the first of such to be purpose-built for the UK sector of the North Sea.
Field development: phase II
The second stage of Chevron’s Alba development plan envisaged using a second Alba Southern Platform to develop the south of the field. At that time the technological limit to the extended reach of a well was 9,500ft.
However, as extended reach drilling (ERD) techniques improved, it became clear that the increasing ‘step-out distances’ were becoming sufficient to exploit reserves at the southern end of the reservoir, using the existing Alba Northern Platform area.
Alba phase IIA
Phase II was divided into two more stages. The first, Phase IIA, increased production capacity from a design rate of 75,000bopd to 100,000bopd. This was completed in October 1996 and since then the platform has handled consistent production rates of around 100,000bopd.
Phase IIB was intended to increase gross fluid handing capacity to a maximum of 390,000bopd from 240,000bopd. As part of this phase, a subsea water-injection facility was installed 6km away to increase pressure for the planned ERD wells. This was drilled by the JW McLean rig, which was connected to the platform with a new 6km pipeline.
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