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The Norwegian Subsea Industry: Headliners on the World Stage

While some industry pundits may hail the Norwegian Continental Shelf as mature, the country's oil and gas industry is far from withering away. Its wealth of experience in the oil and gas business has meant that it has always been a step ahead in developing effective ways of pulling oil out of the ground. While major international operators from the region may be focusing some of their drilling attention on other parts of the world now, they are taking the "Norwegian know-how" with them.

Internationally, the Norwegian subsea industry has a leading position with a 70-80 percent market share. The skills, experience and technology which have been developed on the Norwegian Continental Shelf over many years are now being deployed abroad.


One such region where this deployment has recently become evident is the growing oil and gas markets of Western Africa. As countries such as Angola and Nigeria have emerged into the petroleum world, the presence of the Norwegian cluster is apparent.


angola200x298.jpg (59723 bytes)In Place in Angola
Most recently, Aker Kvaerner was awarded an order for delivery of the subsea oil production system for the Dalia project in Block 17 offshore Angola after successfully winning the contract for pre-engineering work for the project in 2002. The Dalia field is located in water depths of between 1200 and 1500 metres and is operated by Total (formerly TotalFinaElf) E&P Angola.


The contract is valued at over US $300 million and includes engineering, procurement and fabrication of all required subsea production equipment. Management of the project will be taking place in Aker Kvaerner's offices in Oslo, Norway, while significant parts of the project will be carried out in Luanda in the joint venture offices of Aker Kvaerner and the Angolan engineering company Soapro. 


A total of 67 subsea wells are planned for the development of the Dalia field. The contract to develop and supply the subsea system, deemed to be the largest subsea contract to date in the industry, is expected to be awarded in the early part of 2004. Among those in the running for the work is the Norwegian company FMC Kongsberg.


Production from the subsea wells will be gathered at nine cluster manifolds, each of which weighs 150 tonnes with its bottom support frame and sits atop a six-meter diameter suction pile. The manifolds, which were first developed in Norway by Kvaerner Oilfield Products, a subsidiary of Aker Kvaerner, are a single-lift concept, which enables simplified connections of wellhead jumpers and flowline spools by remotely operated-vehicles (ROV), resulting in large savings in installation vessel time. Reducing the time and costs associated with offshore operations is an attractive advantage in West Africa, where drilling rig and support vessel costs are high.


girassol400x359.jpg (159805 bytes)
FMC Kongsberg has an EPC contract for the supply and integration of subsea production facilities on the world's largest deepwater project - the Girassol field, offshore Angola.


"Our experience on the Norwegian Continental Shelf as an operator has given us knowledge of the capabilities of Norwegian companies," says Helge Hervik, Manager of Corporate Affairs for Total E&P Norge. "Many of the decision makers in Angola have worked in Norway before. Their good experiences in Norway have meant that Norwegian services are now being brought over there."


Another successful company in West Africa is FMC Kongsberg. It has an EPC contract with Total E&P Norge for the supply and integration of subsea production facilities on the Girassol field offshore Angola. In production since January 2002, the Girassol field is one of the most ambitious field developments, according to operator Total E&P Norge - as it boasts a high degree of technological innovation in a new area with aggressive cost and schedule targets.


The Girassol development is located in 1400 metres water depth. FMC Kongsberg is contracted to supply a subsea production system comprising of wellheads, X-mas trees, manifolds, a flowline connection system, and control and well intervention equipment. The system will be based on diverless, remotely-operated technology.


Like Aker Kvaerner, FMC has a long-established relationship with Total E&P Norge. Elf (before merging with Total and Fina into the Total group) has been working on the Norwegian Continental Shelf with FMC Kongsberg since as far back as the late 1970s. They worked on a project titled Skuld and, in 1980, installed the first subsea system on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, in the North East Frigg field, in water depths of 100 metres.

"The whole subsea concept started here on the Norwegian Continental Shelf with Kongsberg. It allowed not only Kongsberg, but many Norwegian suppliers who were also involved, to become strong competitors in the global market," says Hervik. "Today, Kongsberg is a brand name for subsea production worldwide."


skuld400x270.jpg (62263 bytes)The full-scale Skuld R&D project - a cooperation between FMC Kongsberg and Elf Norge - helped develop the first diverless system for subsea installation.


ABB at Work in Nigeria
Meanwhile, in Nigeria, ABB Offshore Systems (headquartered in Norway) is carrying out a US $190 million contract for Shell to deliver the subsea production system for its Bonga development. Along with Girassol, the Bonga development project is one of the largest floating production projects off the coast of Africa. ABB's engineering, procurement and construction contract covers all of the subsea equipment required for the Bonga field development.


ABB will supply 29 conventional subsea trees and associated hardware for oil production and water injection on Bonga, all to be tied back to a large floating production, storage and offloading vessel.


But success is not limited to the African markets. Norwegian companies have been branching out in many other regions of the offshore oil and gas world. They have significant establishments in Brazil and have more recently ventured successfully into countries such as Russia and Iran.

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