Volve rig en route
The Maersk Inspirer, the world's biggest jack-up drilling rig is now being towed out to one of the Norwegian continental shelf's (NCS) smallest oil fields, Volve, in the North Sea.
Statoil is consolidating its position as the largest small field operator on the NCS.
"An independent development of Volve means that additional resources can be phased in later," says Bente Aleksandersen, operations vice president for the Sleipner, Volve and Glitne fields.
"We will drill further exploration wells from the platform in the next few years. These can be converted into production wells."
The Volve field alone has an expected life span of six years but if oil prices remain high that life span can be prolonged. There are possible additional reserves in the Volve area.
"Exploration and development of smaller fields is important for us achieving our ambition of producing one million barrels of oil equivalent per day on the NCS until 2015," says Ms Aleksandersen.
Operator Statoil is hiring the Maersk Inspirer rig, with processing facilities. Maersk Contractors Norge will manage production at the Volve field. The rig has been berthed at Haugesund north of Stavanger in recent months for installation and testing of the process facilities.
"A tight schedule in a very tough market means that we are slightly behind with the Volve project," says Ole Jacob Næss, project manager.
"We have prioritised safety over reaching our target on time."
Oil from Volve will be temporarily stored on the Navion Saga vessel before being transported to market. Gas will be sent via pipeline to the Sleipner area. There, wet gas will be separated out and piped to Kårstø, with dry gas being piped to the European market.
Total development and operation costs for Volve are estimated at around NOK 7 billion.
Maersk Inspirer will drill eight wells in the first phase - three production wells, three water injection wells and two water production wells.
Plans call for start-up to begin in the third quarter of 2007. Recoverable reserves are estimated to be 70 million barrels of oil and 1.5 billion standard cubic metres of gas. The field is expected to produce 50,000 barrels per day at plateau production.
Statoil is operator with a 49.6% share. The other licensees are ExxonMobil (30.4%), PA Resources (10%) and Hydro (10%).
Seventeen per cent of Statoil's current oil and gas production comes from fields with less than 125 million barrels of recoverable oil and/or gas. By 2015, as much as 20-30% of output could come from small fields. Artist's impression of Maersk Inspirer at the Volve field. (Illustration: Jan Ulriksen)