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Pipelaying underway for Norway’s largest oil pipeline

Saipem's Castorone pipelaying vessel at Mongstad (photo: Espen Rønnevik / Roar Lindefjeld / Woldcam)
Saipem's Castorone pipelaying vessel at Mongstad (photo: Espen Rønnevik / Roar Lindefjeld / Woldcam)

30 April Statoil announced that installation of Norway’s largest pipeline to the Johan Sverdrup field has begun. Operations started outside Mongstad in the south west of the country on board Saipem’s Castorone pipe laying vessel.

The 36 inch pipeline will extend more than 280km to the Johan Sverdrup field once installed. It is being pulled through a pre-drilled hole at the bottom of the Fensfjord into the oil terminal. When the Johan Sverdrup field reaches peak capacity, 660,000 barrels of oil will flow daily into Mongstad. Statoil operates a refinery at Mongstad that has an annual capacity of almost 12 million tonnes.

Peak production on Johan Sverdrup will be equivalent to 25% of all Norwegian petroleum production.

“Assuming everything goes according to plan, the oil pipeline will reach the Johan Sverdrup field in July,” says Geir Bjaanes, the man responsible for subsea, power and pipelines for the Johan Sverdrup project.

Statoil, majority owned by the Norwegian government, says that the costs for phase 1 of the Johan Sverdrup development have been reduced by more than NOK 35 billion (€3.6 billion) since the plan for development and operation was approved by Norwegian authorities. NOK 1.2 billion (€124 million) was saved by rerouting the pipeline through the Fensfjord.

Originally the pipeline was to be routed onshore 10km from the oil terminal. At the time, it was not believed to be technically feasible to lay the pipe through the Fensfjord due to other existing pipelines in the area and possible subsurface instability.

Statoil commissioned a study in 2015 that showed a subsea pipeline route was possible as long as infill support for existing pipelines was in place.

“We have spent many years with Saipem planning these operations. At the same time, we’re all very aware of the size of the task that we have ahead, with several months at sea with a significant installation scope before we reach the Johan Sverdrup field. The key is to follow the thorough plans that we’ve prepared and maintain our significant focus on HSE along the way,” says Lars Trodal, project manager for the Johan Sverdrup export pipelines.

Phase 2 is expected to begin in 2022, with the plan for development and operation for phase 2 to be submitted before September 2018.

Saipem's Castorone pipelaying vessel at Mongstad (photo: Espen Rønnevik / Roar Lindefjeld / Woldcam)