Case Study

JX Nippon: Drilling the UK’s first deepwater well under new regulations

Full project management and technical support for an extremely challenging offshore site


JX Nippon Exploration and Production (E&P) UK


Exploration well, West of Shetland, UK Continental Shelf


Drilled on target with zero accidents

Client challenge

ST Electronics provides innovative system solutions to government,

JX Nippon Exploration and Production UK, part of the JX Group headquartered in Tokyo, is in the oil and gas exploration and production business. The company operates in 14 countries, with the UK (North Sea) being a core area of operation.

Our client required full, well project management, site survey management and rig survey and inspection service for the Loanan prospect, West of Shetland. This project would be our client’s second time as a Well Operator in the UK and at a challenging site. The Loanan prospect is located in approximately 2,305 feet of water, which has a ‘limited’ operational weather window. The rig being used had never operated in UK waters and there would be a new crew on board. To add to the challenges, the UK regulatory regime had changed in response to EU guidelines. This project would be the first deepwater exploration well drilled in the UK under the new regime.

How we helped

We provided full support, covering wells project management, drilling integrity services and survey and geoengineering. The main areas we helped included:

  • managing the well design and planning
  • overseeing the construction and drilling operations of the exploration well
  • preparing regulatory permits, emergency response arrangements and managing drilling operations
  • designing the site survey, selecting the site survey vessel and preparing the QAQC survey data and report
  • carrying out a shallow hazards assessment, shallow gas identification and providing Iris (our project support and data management tool) and rig positioning services.

Our drilling integrity services team performed a full condition survey. We also provided well control and environmental work, a blow-out preventer (BOP) condition survey and acceptance, and deepwater awareness training.


The well design was based on a 'full hole design' with four casing strings being ran, with an 8-1/2" section drilled to evaluate the reservoir. Due to weaker formation strengths, a 7" drilling liner was required, and a short 6" hole section was drilled prior to plug and abandonment operations.

This was a challenging project, due to the difficult operating conditions. Many obstacles were predicted, encountered and overcome including:

  • location issues for the offset wells, with boulders and strong sea currents
  • drilling issues with maintaining verticality, hole instability, tight hole and packing off, particularly in the 12¼" section, with more than one well requiring a sidetrack, and most sections required multiple bit runs
  • the possibility of encountering high pressure dolerite sills in the deeper 8½" section.

Key results

Compliance with new UK regulatory submission requirements, with a DECC rig inspection adequately supported.

  • Minimised the overall time the hole sections were open and no hole issues were encountered in any of the sections due to the expertise and technologies applied.
  • Planning and execution of the well in a short time frame, enabling drilled during the optimal summer months.
  • Choice of a fit-for-purpose harsh environment drilling rig resulted in no WOW.

Business benefits

  • Exploration well delivered with zero accidents.
  • Within +/- 5% of the AFE.
  • Drilled on target.

This project was carried out by Lloyd’s Register (LR) Energy, prior to the strategic carve out of the LR Energy business in 2020, which is now Vysus Group.

Lloyd’s Register Energy [now known as Vysus Group] was able to mobilise a well-planning team in a short period of time to deliver the UK's first deep water, harsh environment well to be drilled under the new OSD regulatory regime introduced following Macondo.

Contracting and procurement activities were undertaken in conjunction with detailed well planning, which enabled the well to be spudded within six months of financial approval. While JX Nippon was nominated as Well Operator, well delivery was principally controlled and managed in accordance with the established Lloyd’s Register systems and procedures.

Although the selected drilling unit rig was new to the UK, rig acceptance, commissioning and mobilisation was conducted harmoniously. Drilling performance met expectations with full advantage being taken of the capabilities of the dual activity rig. The well was delivered efficiently with all key safety and performance targets being met.

Richard Wilson, Head of HSE Manager, Drilling & Wells

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