Ormen Lange: Clear Sailing for Subsea Production

Sailing in the Norwegian Sea over the Ormen Lange field, the view is of undisturbed ocean, blue sky and clouds.

Sailing in the Norwegian Sea over the Ormen Lange field, the view is of undisturbed ocean, blue sky and clouds. That’s the way Norsk Hydro would like to keep it for sailors and fishermen over one of Norway’s most productive future gas fields.

But far beneath the surface, taking shape on the seabed some 800 to 1,100 meters below, a highly advanced sea floor production facility is being created to bring clean gas energy to the UK and Europe. The Ormen Lange development is a major technological step forward in moving from surface platforms to sea floor facilities that are connected to onshore processing and export plants.

Overcoming Deep Water Challenges with High Technology
Despite extremely challenging natural conditions, the initial phase of the project is nearing completion. The first-phase production system includes two subsea templates with manifolds, eight X-mas trees, control systems, an intervention system, tie-in tools, and both end terminations and tee’s for 30 in. gas pipelines.

The untreated well stream will be transported onshore to a plant in mid-Norway via two 120 km long, 30 in. flowlines. There, it will be processed and finally exported in the 1,200 km long subsea transport pipeline to Easington in the UK.

Hydro and partners have had to contend with the challenges of uneven sea floors, extreme depths and strong currents in creating this state-of-the-art facility. They’ve put some of the most advanced technology in the industry to work on the challenges posed by this project, finding solutions with 3D imaging, robotics and computing innovations. Beyond keeping the sea surface above Ormen Lange open and undisturbed, the development is also showing that sea floor production and onshore processing is highly competitive in a business sense. According to Norsk Hydro president and CEO Eivind Reiten, "onshore processing is as profitable as a solely offshore development."

Production on a Huge Scale
Hydro’s project is a large-scale development in every sense. Project manager Tom Røtjer calls it "one of the largest and most exciting developments – even on the world scale". The project ranks as the largest in Norway’s history in terms of man-hours of labour. Gas deliveries are expected to begin in October of 2007, and the scale of output will be impressive. Production is anticipated to grow to 70 million cubic meters per day after the first two or three years of operation. And the facility should be in operation for quite some time. Thanks to Ormen Lange’s formidable gas reserves (currently estimated at 397 billion cubic meters), deliveries are likely to continue for between 30 and 40 years.

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Using high technology to overcome deep water challenges, Norsk Hydro’s development of the Ormen Lange field is setting new standards for subsea production in difficult conditions. The well stream will be transported to an onshore plant for processing and exporting via pipeline.

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