InterMoor support for Barents Sea developments.
The Barents Sea offers huge potential for oil and gas exploration. Norway’s recent 22nd licensing round focused on frontier areas and, from the 86 blocks announced in the round, 72 were in the Barents Sea. This sends a clear signal that the area will become the new focus for oil and gas exploration in Norway. However, the drive to find and exploit hydrocarbons offshore northern Norway presents some unique and exciting challenges to oil and gas operators and to service companies.
In December 2012, IOS InterMoor signed a three-year fixed contract with Eni to provide rig moorings along with associated equipment and services in support of operations at Goliat field in the Barents Sea, offshore northern Norway. The contract covers general mooring equipment services, including equipment rental, service and repair, and personnel for mooring operations. To meet these requirements, IOS InterMoor substantially invested in new equipment, personnel and facilities at Hammerfest, Norway, during the first few months of 2013.
Goliat field is located 85 km north west of Hammerfest. Eni won the exploration licence in 1997 and discovered oil in 2000. The operator will develop the field using the Goliat floating production storage and offloading unit and has scheduled production to start in 2014. Recoverable reserves for Goliat oilfield are estimated at 174 MMbbl and its production is predicted to plateau at 100,000 bbl/d. Eni’s reservoir drainage strategy calls for water and gas injection employing eight well templates with 22 wells.
IOS InterMoor’s work scope for Goliat field includes providing two complete rig mooring spreads for pre-laying to be used for support of pre-production drilling on five templates.
As the prime subcontractor for mooring services, IOS InterMoor buys or hires the equipment needed on Eni’s behalf. This includes taking responsibility for the engineering work associated with the mooring activities and defining the procedures for moving the rig.
The project got off to a flying start in December 2012. Shortly after the contract win announcement, Eni contacted InterMoor to check the availability of the equipment it required for immediate delivery to our new Hammerfest operations base. David Smith, IOS InterMoor managing director, says, “The call came on Friday afternoon and the materials had to be in Hammerfest by the following Tuesday. We spent an hour or so checking our inventory and managed to find everything Eni required. Then we arranged delivery to meet the deadline. This kind of response is possible only because we carry a large inventory of equipment. Orders often come in at very short notice, so this is the only way to fulfil unforeseen customer requests.”
As part of the contract, InterMoor had to establish an operations base at the Hammerfest Polarbase, which is owned and operated by the NorSea Group in Norway. This base has everything InterMoor requires to conduct operations for the Goliat development but operations this far north can present significant challenges. The Arctic location means that winter operations at the base are always in darkness and at extremely low temperatures.
IOS InterMoor’s first shipment of equipment went to Hammerfest by truck from its Mongstad base outside Bergen in December 2012. On the trip north, the convoy encountered temperatures of –30°C, which resulted in one of the spooling machines freezing. The machine’s diesel and hydraulic fluids had to be thawed out by gradually increasing the temperature when the shipment reached Hammerfest. Once the machine had reached ambient temperature, one or two degrees below zero, it worked perfectly.
InterMoor has now delivered and installed both pre-lay mooring spreads for Goliat field. Eni specified the highest strength chain currently available for its mooring system. A specialist supplier in Bilbao, Spain, manufactured approximately 18,000 m of this R5 chain. The first set arrived in April 2013 and was deployed to the rig in May; the second set was collected in July and installed in August.
Eni is currently very active in the Barents Sea and all the major players in Norway’s oil and gas sector also have acreage in the area with the clear expectation that there will be major discoveries over the next few years. Smith anticipates a surge in exploration and production efforts in the area. “Right now, there are 36 jackup and semisubmersible rigs operating in Norwegian waters. Three years from now, this figure may increase to about 50 rigs, with perhaps 10 rigs operating in the Barents Sea," he explains. "Our new base in Hammerfest gives us a presence in the region just as the business is set to take off.”
Conducting and supporting operations in the Barents Sea will be challenging, but Smith says InterMoor is well placed to meet them. “We have a strong track record in the Norwegian market and our involvement in the Goliat development underlines our position as the preferred provider in the region,” he concludes.
Also working in Norway
IOS InterMoor is not the only Acteon company hard at work in the Barents Sea for Eni. NCS Survey carried out a successful baseline current measuring project on Bønna Field for the company during July 2013. The work involved measuring ocean current speed and direction using acoustic Doppler current profiling sensors fixed to a remotely operated vehicle. The water depth at Bønna is over 1400 m, so the challenge was to achieve current measurements through the entire water column. The project was under contract to Oceaneering, which provided the remotely operated vehicle, and mobilised from Tromsø. Two dedicated NCS Survey offshore personnel carried out the data acquisition and processing.