By J. Brock (FINN)
Rockhopper Exploration plc, has announced that it has completed the concept selection process for the Sea Lion Development with partner Premier Oil. Premier as Operator of the field has recommended the Tension Leg Platform option as the most suitable technical and commercial solution for the development of Sea Lion. Rockhopper has been working closely with Premier and agrees with that recommendation. Premier has also indicated that Final Investment Decision is now likely to be taken in the first half of 2015 and Rockhopper continues to expect first oil 3½ - 4 years after project sanction. In terms of exploration, the Zebedee, Jayne East, Elaine/Isobel, and Chatham prospects have been matured to drillable status and a rig tender process is underway. This is being conducted in conjunction with other regional operators and includes four firm slots for the Rockhopper / Premier joint venture. Rockhopper expects a contract to be awarded in the first half of this year and the first well to spud in late 2014 or early 2015. 'We are pleased to have reached another significant milestone in the commercialisation of the Sea Lion Field, Sam Moody, Rockhopper Exploration's Chief Executive Officer said. The Tension Leg Platform provides operational and commercial advantages over the FPSO alternative and it was worth taking the extra time needed to evaluate the option, he continued. We now move forward into the Front End Engineering and Development stage with a view to making a final investment decision in 2015.