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Deep Panuke Restarts as Northeast Weather Chills

Encana Corp.'s Deep Panuke natural gas platform offshore Nova Scotia restarted two weeks ago to take advantage of cooler weather in the Boston region, CEO Doug Suttles said Thursday.

The platform, which now is ramped up only during the winter months as conditions on the East Coast dictate. Last February it was producing 180-200 MMcf/d; it has capacity to produce up to 300 MMcf/d (see Daily GPI,Feb. 26).

During a conference call to discuss third quarter results, Suttles said the platform had been shut down for about six months. Panuke moved into full operating mode at the end of 2013 (see Daily GPI, Dec. 18, 2013). In the spring the platform was shut down because underground water flow was blocking the wells, and Encana had planned a restart this fall (see Daily GPI,June 29).

"You can shut a platform down for six months, and you have your fingers crossed when you turn it back on that it will run well," Suttles said. "What it's really tied to is weather, and in this case, it was some compressor outages on the East Coast, which caused gas prices to run in that Boston market, so we decided to bring it on early.

"But [prices] are pretty volatile this time of the year. When the weather is warmer, the price drops pretty dramatically and when it's cooler, they come up...We...nominate gas 24 hours at a time, so we can actually take the production up and down depending on what we see the market to market need is. But it is up and running."

Panuke flowed 6.2 Bcf last January, versus 5.7 Bcf in December 2014. The field, which represents 1% of Encana's total proved reserves, is about 155 miles southeast of Halifax.

Following a successful initial open season over the winter of 2013-2014 to serve U.S. Northeast markets, Encana had said Panuke would work as a seasonal operation. Gas production from Panuke in 1Q2014 sold for an average price of $19.14/Mcf into the U.S. Northeast daily spot market (see Daily GPI, May 13, 2014).

How long Panuke is able to operate on the lowered reserves estimate depends on how the production is managed, and on the well and reservoir performance. Encana at one time had planned for Panuke to be producing for six to 13 years.

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