Minister officially inaugurates Åsgard
The ceremony took place on the floating Åsgard B gas production platform, which is moored in 300 metres of water about 200 kilometres from the mid-Norwegian coast.
This inauguration marks the completion of the boldest and most complex subsea development to date in the international oil and gas industry.
"But the project has done more than make technological history," commented Olav Fjell, chief executive of Statoil. "It has opened the Norwegian Sea to Europe's growing gas market. "Åsgard will contribute to European energy supplies for many years to come, and will also serve as an important centre for processing production from other fields in the area."
Ranked as the most extensive on the Norwegian continental shelf to date, the Åsgard development comprises four principal elements:
- The field itself, comprising a total of 50 subsea wells divided between 16 subsea templates and tied together by 300 kilometres of flowline. Surface installations embrace the Åsgard A oil production ship and Åsgard B - each the world's largest unit of its kind - and the Åsgard C storage ship for condensate (light oil).
- The Åsgard Transport gas trunkline, which runs for 707 kilometres to the Kårstø treatment complex north of Stavanger. This line ties Åsgard and other Norwegian Sea fields to markets in continental Europe and the UK.
- An expansion of the facilities at Kårstø separates rich gas from Åsgard into lean gas (methane) for onward transmission by pipeline, and ethane, butane, propane and naphtha for export by ship.
- The Europipe II gas trunkline, running for 650 kilometres from Kårstø to the receiving facilities at Dornum on the German coast.
While the Åsgard projects were originally costed at NOK 47.2 billion, the final bill came to NOK 65.7 billion. This rise partly reflects project changes and optimisation, but about 20 per cent can be attributed to underestimating the complexity of the work.
Despite the cost increase, Åsgard will yield a good return. At NOK 7.4 billion, the price tag for the A ship represents just 350 days of gross revenues from the field.
It took less than three years from approval of the plan for development and operation by Norway's Storting (parliament) to the start of oil production in May 1999. Gas exports began last autumn.
Such rapid progress was achieved by applying the principles drawn up in the Norsok project on the competitive standing of the Norwegian offshore sector, which reported in 1995.
In the wake of this study, offshore operators adopted new standards, different forms of collaboration with suppliers and new technology.
"Norsok's objective was to cut development costs by 50 per cent," notes Mr Fjell. "We failed to achieve that. But we got them down by 30 per cent from where they would have been with a pre-Norsok development approach."
In 2007, Åsgard will be delivering roughly 10 billion cubic metres of gas to continental Europe - corresponding to about 15 per cent of total Norwegian exports of this commodity.
The field is accordingly set to make a substantial contribution to maintaining Norway's position as one of Europe's leading gas suppliers. In addition, it will yield almost 200.000 barrels of oil and 60-70.000 barrels of condensate per day at plateau. That corresponds to just under 10 per cent of Norwegian oil production.
Licensees in Åsgard:
|Statoil (operator):||25.00 per cent|
|Petoro:||35.50 per cent|
|Norsk Hydro:||9.60 per cent|
|Norsk Agip::||7.90 per cent|
|TotalFinaElf:||7.65 per cent|
|ExxonMobil:||7.35 per cent|
|Fortum Petroleum:||7.00 per cent|
See pictures from Åsgard.