Premier Decides on Falkland Oil Platform With Rockhopper

Premier Oil Plc and Rockhopper Exploration Plc decided on an oil platform for the Sea Lion discovery off the Falkland Islands as they prepare to pump the first crude off the South Atlantic archipelago.

The partners will use a tension leg platform, or TLP, with an integral drilling rig, London-based Premier said today in a statement. It will cost less than an alternative plan to build a floating production, storage and offloading facility, it said.

TLPs are moored, floating platforms used for production offshore and can operate in water depths of more than 300 meters (980 feet). Premier and Rockhopper, seeking to develop oil off the islands that Margaret Thatcher fought to keep British in 1982, pushed back a final investment decision on the project until next year, with first crude coming in 2018 or 2019.

Sea Lion is the first discovery off the Falklands, an archipelago also claimed by Argentina. Premier and Rockhopper plan to spend about $5 billion to bring the field to production and will also explore for more oil in the region.

“We are pleased to have reached another significant milestone in the commercialization of the Sea Lion field,” Rockhopper Chief Executive Officer Sam Moody said in a separate statement. “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.”

Premier dropped 6.5 percent to 288 pence in London trading, the lowest since June 2010, after publishing 2014 production forecasts that missed analyst estimates. Rockhopper fell 1.9 percent to 153 pence.

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