22,000-Tonne Johan Sverdrup Drilling Topside Going to Meet Pioneering Spirit

Johan Sverdrup topside
The Johan Sverdrup drilling topside at the Aibel yard in Haugesund. Photo: Equinor

The drilling topside for the giant Johan Sverdrup field has left the shipyard in Haugesund, Norway to meet up with the heavy lift ship Pioneering Spirit for its installation in the North Sea.

For the last nine months, the 147-meter Johan Sverdrup drilling platform has towered over the city of Haugesund in southwestern Norway while at the Aibel shipyard.

On Thursday afternoon, four tugs began towing the barge carrying the topside to Bømlafjorden at Stord, where the 22,000-tonne steel structure will be transferred to the Pioneering Spirit, the world’s biggest heavy-lift vessel, before proceeding to the Johan Sverdrup field for offshore installation in a single lift.

The drilling topside installation is the second of four platforms in Phase 1 of the Johan Sverdrup field development.

PHOTOS: First Johan Sverdrup Topside Installed in North Sea

With expected recoverable resources of between 2.1 and 3.1 billion barrels of oil equivalent, Johan Sverdrup is one of the five biggest oil fields on the Norwegian continental shelf and one of the most important industrial projects in Norway over the next 50 years.

The field is operated by Norwegian energy giant Equinor (formerly Statoil).

Johan Sverdrup
Illustration of the Johan Sverdrup Field Centre. Drilling topside pictured second from right. Illustration credit: Equinor

The field will be developed in several phases, with Phase 1 expected to start up in late 2019 with production capacity estimated at 440,000 barrels of oil per day.

Norwegian oil and gas services company Aibel won the NOK eight billion contract for the Johan Sverdrup drilling topside in February 2015.

The largest module, the main deck, was built at Aibel’s yard in Thailand. The drilling support module, the second largest unit, was built in Haugesund, Norway, while the third module, the derrick and associated equipment, was built by Nymo in Grimstad.

The three modules were assembled in Klosterfjorden in early September 2017 before final being towed in to Aibel’s yard in Haugesund, where it departed on Thursday.

Johan Sverdrup topside
The Johan Sverdrup drilling topside at the Aibel yard in Haugesund. Photo: Equinor

“This is the first and biggest platform being assembled onshore and prepared for installation offshore in one single lift, so this is path breaking. The plan has been challenging at times, all work from start to finish taking just 39 months, but it has all been excellently delivered both with regard to safety, costs and quality,” says Lars Håvardsholm, Equinor’s project manager for the drilling platform.

Once at the Johan Sverdrup field, the drilling platform will be lifted into position in one single lift by the Pioneering Spirit heavy-lift vessel.

The operation will mark the first platform installation job by the record-breaking Pioneering Spirit.

SEE ALSO: Pioneering Spirit Sets World Lifting Record

In April Equinor signed a letter of intent with Aibel worth about NOK 8 billion for the construction of the topside for the second processing platform on the field, part of Phase 2 of the development.

Phase 2 is expected to start-up in 2022, with full field production estimated to peak at 660,000 barrels of oil per day, equivalent to 25% of all Norwegian petroleum production.

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