Energy company Centrica has announced a £60m investment to boost gas production in Morecambe Bay.
The company said it is securing 350 jobs and will be able to unlock up to three billion cubic feet of gas under the East Irish Sea by simplifying the process required to get it to shore.
The project to refurbish two 5,000-tonne platforms, which is expected to start later this month, will boost output from the fields which already produce enough gas to heat 1.5m UK homes.
Over the course of the next nine months, the teams working on a jack-up accommodation barge – which will be moored alongside the DP6 and DP8 platforms so the engineers can ‘walk to work’ – will overhaul the equipment on the normally-unmanned installations.
They will also remove the lifeboats and 60-tonne cranes on both platforms so they can be refurbished and reinstalled. While 50 people will be supporting the project onshore, a 300-strong team will be working offshore across Centrica and its project partners.
Once complete, the campaign will unlock up to a further 3bn cubic feet of gas under the East Irish Sea.
The project is part of a major investment programme planned for Centrica’s Morecambe Bay operations, both offshore and onshore.
Earlier this year, Centrica announced plans to remove some of the redundant equipment on its South Terminal at the Barrow Gas Terminals in a £15m project. All the gas from Centrica’s East Irish Sea fields is now processed at the newer North Morecambe Terminal, leading to the planning application to remove some of the oldest equipment at the nearby South Terminal.
Tamsin Lishman, Morecambe Bay Director for Centrica’s exploration & production business said: “The Morecambe Bay fields have been a cornerstone of our business since first gas flowed into the Barrow Gas Terminals more than 30 years ago, so we are delighted to continue investing in their future.
“With nearly 300bn cubic feet of gas still in place under the East Irish Sea, major projects like this will help ensure we maximise the potential of these fields and continue supplying gas for UK homes and businesses.”
Centrica, which owns British Gas, is the UK’s largest gas supplier.