NORTH Sea-focused Serica Energy has started production from a field it found in 2006 through a development it said would provide much-needed energy for the UK while making the most of existing facilities in the area.

The company brought the Columbus gas field onstream east of Aberdeen on Wednesday after facing a range of challenges on the project.

Columbus has been tied in to the Shearwater platform. Serica reckons that by going down this route it has been able to reduce the environmental impact of the development compared with a greenfield scheme.

Chief executive Mitch Flegg noted: “Serica’s approach to increasing its production base and providing much needed energy to the UK while seeking lower carbon emission solutions, has been achieved by using shared existing infrastructure to progress the development of Columbus.”

Serica worked on the project for years before agreeing the terms for access to infrastructure operated by other firms. Last month the company said it faced a short delay in starting production from Columbus as the Shell-operated Shearwater platform was running at restricted capacity

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Meanwhile, Neptune Energy has said it has passed a milestone in the development of the Seagull field east of Aberdeen, which will be linked to facilities operated by BP.

Neptune has installed subsea well equipment along with umbilicals that be use to take output to the ETAP production platform 17 kilometres distant.

Its UK managing director, Alexandra Thomas, said: “The Seagull project is a fundamentally important part of Neptune’s strategic growth plans.”

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Neptune is developing Seagull with BP and Japex. First oil is expected in 2023

Serica worked on a plan to develop Columbus using facilities operated by the former BG, which decided not to proceed with the project. Shell acquired BG for $47 billion in 2015.