Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Nearly a month after production began, the first cargo of about 500,000 barrels of oil was delivered from the Catcher area in the North Sea, the operator said.
Premier Oil, the field's operator, said Wednesday the first cargo was lifted yesterday, earlier than expected, and another was already set for the first week of February. Without mentioning specific terms, the company said both deliveries were sold at a premium to Brent crude oil, the global benchmark for the price of oil.
Brent closed trading Tuesday at $69.96, close to a four-year high.
Premiere in late December said initial production from its floating production, storage and offloading vessel parked over the three fields that make up the Catcher area will be around 10,000 barrels per day. A peak rate of around 60,000 bpd is expected during the first half of 2018.
The complex, comprised of the Catcher, Burgman and Varadero fields, was discovered in 2010 by Premiere and the company at the time put the gross reserve estimate between 25 million and 50 million barrels of oil. When it announced the start of production, the company said Catcher holds about 96 million barrels of oil equivalent.
As of Wednesday, there were four production wells in operation with an initial rate of around 20,000 bpd, which the company said was stifled deliberately while its floating production vessel ramps up. The peak capacity of 60,000 bpd is anticipated by the second quarter.
Premiere Oil said earlier this month its total British production last year of nearly 40,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day was up 20 percent from 2016. Full year total production of 75,000 barrels of oil equivalent was in line with guidance, and up from the previous year by 5 percent.
For Catcher, Premiere said total project spending was now expected to be about $1.6 billion, 29 percent lower than expected.
A North Sea review from consultant group Wood Mackenzie found that, while new developments looking forward are scarce, about 30 percent of the production by 2020 will come from fields like Catcher that aren't yet fully operational.