OE 2015: Statoil planning ahead for Johan Sverdrup

Offshore staff

ABERDEEN, UK – Statoil is preparing to issue more contracts for Phase 1 of the Johan Sverdrup development in the central Norwegian North Sea, said senior vice president Oivind Reinertsen at Offshore Europe.

The partners are also closing in on concept selection for Phase 2, he added.

“This is one of those fields that can take this company and the industry through potentially years of widespread pessimism to come,” he stressed.

Johan Sverdrup, 160 km (99.4 mi) west of Stavanger on the Utsira High region, is now recognized as one of Norway’s five biggest discoveries, with up to 3.7 Bbbl potentially recoverable. Lundin and Statoil drilled the breakthrough wells on adjacent licenses in 2010-11.

But the acreage was among the original batch to be awarded when Norway opened its waters to exploration in 1965, Reinertsen pointed out, as production licenses 1 and 7, and the first exploration on the blocks was in 1967.

The following decade the first well was drilled just a short distance east of the 2010-11 discoveries, he added, narrowly missing the target. “So this is a very mature area of the Norwegian continental shelf.”

Statoil is aiming to keep the field producing for 50 years, and the water depth of 110 m (361 ft) means conventional technologies can be applied, he said. However, the field’s areal extent of more than 200 sq km (77.2 sq mi) complicates matters, necessitating a phased development, “so we had to find a concept for Phase 1 that would also support production from future phases.”

The partners submitted a revised plan this February which Norway’s government sanctioned last month, targeting production of 315-380,000 b/d. This calls for construction and installation of four bridge-linked platforms comprising a total of 90,000 tons of topsides and more than 100,000 tons of jackets and pipes, connected to three subsea water injector templates.

Most of the main construction and installation contracts have been awarded for these facilities, and contracts for supply of pipes should follow during the fall. Oil and gas will be exported respectively through subsea pipelines to Mongstad and Kaarsto on Norway’s west coast, with installations scheduled for 2017-18.

Johan Sverdrup’s oil is under-saturated with hardly any gas, Reinertsen pointed out. Most of the gas that is produced will be needed for gas lift. Statoil plans use of water-alternating-gas technology to increase oil recovery, so only small surplus gas volumes are likely to be piped to Kaarsto.

Despite various reports, longer-term planning for Johan Sverdrup has never been based on any other solution than a direct power supply from the Norwegian mainland, he stressed. “This was the first major decision taken by the partners because the government wanted a power hub for all the new field developments in the Utsira High area.”

The result, he added, is that the Phase 2 development must facilitate power from shore and Phase 2 must therefore also come into operation during 2022. “With power from shore, Johan Sverdrup will contribute to savings of 5 kg of carbon dioxide /cu ft of oil. We also plan to reinject produced water from day one.”

The considerations for concept selection for Phase 2 include where to put the cable importing the power on the riser platform, and development of more outlying areas of the field, either via subsea tiebacks or jackups drilling on small satellite platforms with eight-10 well slots.

The preferred concept should be selected in November, followed by field studies in 2016 and submission of the Phase 2 development plan by the end of 2017.

Future phases today remain on the drawing board, Reinertsen said, and would probably cost between NOK 50-100 billion ($6-12 billion). They could lift plateau production from the field to 550,000-650,000 boe/d, equivalent to 40% of Norway’s production, he added.


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