Steel Cut on Johan Sverdrup Drilling Platform

Johan Sverdrup rendering. Photo: Statoil
Johan Sverdrup rendering. Photo: Statoil

Norwegian oil major Statoil has announced the start of construction on the first of four topside units for the giant Johan Sverdrup oil field offshore Norway.

The steel cutting ceremony for the Johan Sverdrup drilling platform was held Monday (Feb 15) at Aibel’s yard in Haugesund, Norway.

“Aibel won the contract for the construction of the drilling platform about one year ago. Following an extensive planning and engineering process it feels good to start the construction of the first of four topside structures for the Johan Sverdrup project”, says Kjetel Digre, Statoil’s senior vice president for the project.”

The Johan Sverdrup development project is heralded as the biggest and most expensive industrial project in Norway in decades. The field, located in the North Sea approximately 96 miles west of Stavanger, is expected to hold between 1.7 and 3 billion barrels of oil equivalent, making it one of the top 5 biggest oil discoveries ever on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. The first phase involves the establishment of a field hub consisting of four platforms.

“More than 14,000 people are involved in the Johan Sverdrup project on a daily basis in 2016, 1,000 of them working for Aibel in Norway. We now see the effect of Norwegian industry being competitive, winning most of the principal contracts and equipment deliveries for Johan Sverdrup. We are dependent on all of these people to successfully deliver the project on time, to the required quality, and above all, without any HSE incidents,” Digre says.

The construction contract for the Johan Sverdrup drilling platform was awarded to Aibel in February 2015. The topside engineering work is being performed in Aibel’s Asker office, where also Statoil’s project team is located.

johan sverdrup steel cutting
Kjetel Digre, senior vice president for the Johan Sverdrup project, druing the steel cutting ceremony, February 15, 2016. Photo: Øyvind Torjusen/Statoil

The 22,500-ton drilling platform will consist of three modules, one that is being built at the yard in Haugesund, one at the Deeline yard in Thailand, and one at Nymo’s yard in Grimstad. The modules will be assembled at Aibel’s yard in Haugesund in the autumn of 2017, before the platform is installed on the field in 2018.

In the summer of 2015 the pre-drilling templates were installed on the field. The Deepsea Atlantic semi-submersible will start pre-drilling wells on the field in March 2016.

“The most complex platform on the Johan Sverdrup field the drilling platform will come on stream at the end of 2018. We will then start phasing in the pre-drilled wells before production from the field commences at the end of 2019,” Digre says.

Statoil said Monday that the cost development for the project has so far been positive, with the investment estimate for the first phase of the development has been reduced by 12%.

Faced with a collapse in oil prices over the last 18 months, Statoil and its partners have been forced to cut the initial costs of developing the project. In early 2015, Statoil estimated first-phase investments of $14.8 billion (NOK 117 billion ), but in September revised its estimate to $13.42 billion, a 7% savings. 

“We are on track in the project, and have seen a positive cost development. This is still in an early stage of the project implementation: What matters now is to maintain focus throughout the process,” Digre added.

While Monday’s steel cutting ceremony marked the start of construction on the Johan Sverdrup topsides, the start of production officially began in June 2015 when steel was cut on the first riser platform jacket at the Kvaerner Verdal yard in Norway.

Production start-up at the field is scheduled for the end of 2019. Oil from the field will be piped to the Mongstad terminal in Hordaland, while gas will be transported via Statpipe to the Kårstø processing plant in North Rogaland.

A second phase of development is expected to start in 2022.

Statoils partners in the project include Lundin Norway, Petoro, Det norske oljeselskap and Maersk Oil.