Talisman Sinopec's North Sea Buchan Alpha

Information Panel


Talisman Sinopec


North Sea


United Kingdom


Production Platform - Oil


Semi Submersible

Drilling Manager



Year Built




The Buchan Alpha (named after the field it operates), sits in the South Halibut Basin, approximately 120 miles (190 km) north east off Aberdeen, Scotland, in block 21/1A, and 20/5A(E) of the UKCS.  It sits in a water depth of 116 meters (380).

It is operated and owned by Talisman Sinopec.



The Buchan field's original licence holder, Transworld Petroleum (UK) and  Texaco, originally thought the field to be problematic and of short life field (around five years) when it was discovered in August 1974.  Buchan commenced operation in May 1981, as a short life field by its then operator BP, in a joint venture with Texaco.  Due to Buchan's short life expectancy, cost were kept to a minimum, and a semi-submersible was utilised.  This was at odds with the convention of constructing a fixed platform within the North Sea, but proved a lot cheaper.

Production peaked in 1983 with an average of 32,000 bbl/d (5,100 m3/d).  

The Buchan is still in production today. Due to recent redevelopments, it is thought it will be in production until at least 2018.

The Drilling package was designed for coiled tube drilling.  The drilling package has been decommissioned. 



A semi-submersible drilling rig, the Drillmaster, was converted to included production facilities.  Renamed the Buchan Alpha, it was the sister rig to the Alexander L. Keilland- which capsized in Norwegian waters due to a faulty weld, leading to the loss of 100 lives.

A pentagon in design, the Buchan Alpha had to undergo major inspections and strengthening works in dock prior to work in the Buchan field.  The work was to increase the redundancy to the tubular support bracings, and ultimately stop a repeat of the Alexander L. Keilland tragedy. 

Even today, Talisman Sinopec, employs a team of inspectors year round to ensure the integrity of all internal bracing welds, whilst a team of divers is employed for six months every year to inspect the outer.



Currently production is from 6 wells and a further 2 from a sub-sea tie back, the Hannay, 13.5 km NW of the Buchan.  Produce from the Buchan Alpha is exported to the Forties Charlie, before heading to shore via the Forties pipeline system, on to Grangemouth refinery.


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