Equinor starts production at Snorre expansion project

Equinor on Saturday, December 12, kicked off production from its Snorre Expansion Project in the North Sea, offshore Norway.

The project, which will add almost 200 million barrels of recoverable oil reserves and help extend the productive life of the Snorre field through 2040, was originally scheduled to come on stream in the first quarter of 2021.

The Snorre field partnership consists of Equinor, Petoro, Vår Energi, Idemitsu, and Wintershall Dea.

Geir Tungesvik, Equinor’s executive vice president for Technology, Projects and Drilling said: “I am proud that we have managed to achieve safe start-up of the Snorre Expansion Project ahead of schedule in such a challenging year as 2020. In addition, the project is set to be delivered more than NOK 1 billion below the cost estimate in the plan for development and operation (PDO).”

The Snorre field has been on stream since 1992. Equinor says there are substantial resources left in the ground on the Snorre field. 

In December 2017, Equinor and the Snorre partners submitted a modified plan for development and operation (PDO) for the Snorre field to Norwegian authorities.  

The recovery factor will now be increased from 46 to 51 percent, representing significant value for a field with 2 billion barrels of recoverable oil reserves, the company says.

Floating wind power

Also worth noting, the Hywind Tampen project, featuring 11 floating wind turbines that will supply the Snorre and Gullfaks fields with power, is expected to come on stream in the third quarter of 2022. Some 35 percent of the power requirement for the two fields is expected to be met using wind power.

According to the original PDO, the Snorre field was intended to be closed in 2011-2014, but continues to produce thanks to the authorities’ consent to extend the field’s life, Equinor says.

“Life extension represents good resource management. The new volumes brought to Snorre A help ensure activity offshore and onshore, creating substantial value for the Norwegian society,” says Arne Sigve Nylund, Equinor’s executive vice president for Development and Production Norway.

Per Equinor, the investments in Snorre Expansion Project total NOK 19.5 billion [$2,23B] (2020 value), and the development is profitable even at far lower oil prices than today. The project has had substantial spin-off effects for the supply industry in Norway, particularly in Eastern Norway and in Rogaland.

24 new wells for six subsea templates

Snorre Expansion templates sail away from Tønsberg. (Photo: Roar Lindefjeld – Espen Rønnevik / Equinor ASA) 

In total, 24 new wells will be drilled to recover the new volumes. The wells are divided into six subsea templates. Bundles connecting the new wells to the platform have also been installed, in addition to new risers. The project also includes a new module and modifications on Snorre A.

After three years of modifications being carried out on a platform on stream, the final preparations to receive oil from the new wells were performed during a major turnaround this autumn. The turnaround and work were performed without injuries or serious incidents.

“Although the Snorre Expansion Project had progressed far when the Covid-19 pandemic began, the project has experienced challenges associated with deliveries, closed borders and plants, in addition to limited workforce on the platform due to infection control measures.

2020 has been a busy year, particularly when it comes to marine operations and modifications. Despite this, production began ahead of schedule,” Equinor said.

The Snorre field partners are Equinor Energy AS (operator) 33.27 %, Petoro AS 30%, Vår Energi AS 18.55%, Idemitsu Petroleum Norge AS 9.6 % and Wintershall Dea Norge AS 8.57%.

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