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Irpa, formerly Asterix

Photo of Aasta Hansteen platform
The Aasta Hansteen platform in the Norwegian Sea, west of Bodø
Photo: Woldcam

Irpa: securing gas supplies to Europe and extending Aasta Hansteen’s lifetime by seven years

(A tie-in development to Aasta Hansteen)

Irpa, formerly called Asterix, is located at a depth of approximately 1350 metres in the Norwegian Sea, 340 kilometres offshore Bodø, with expected recoverable gas reserves estimated at almost 20 billion standard cubic metres (Sm3), as well as 0.4 million Sm3 in condensate​s, approximately 124 million b.o.e. in all.

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Irpa will be developed as a tie-in to Aasta Hansteen, currently the deepest field development on the Norwegian continental shelf. Irpa's gas volumes are expected to correspond to the consumption of more than 2.3 million British households for seven years.

Showing the field development solution for Irpa
Showing the field development solution for Irpa. Aasta Hansteen is seen in the background.
Equinor graphic services

A new chapter for Aasta Hansteen
This project will open a new chapter in the history of Aasta Hansteen. Available capacity at Aasta Hansteen will be utilised and the lifetime of the platform extended, maintaining employment for a further seven years.

The development also strengthens our position as a reliable and long-term supplier of gas to Europe. Recent events have underscored the importance of stable gas deliveries to Europe, and Irpa will contribute to increased reliable supplies in the years ahead.

Map of Irpa discovery and Aasta Hansteen tie-back
Aasta Hansteen field showing Irpa tie-back in the Norwegian Sea
Illustration: Equinor

Local spin-offs
The development will extend the lifetime of Aasta Hansteen from 2032 to 2039. This provides significant value creation through jobs and local spin-offs. In 2020 and 2021, the operation of Aasta Hansteen created jobs equivalent to over 300 full-time person-years, directly and indirectly.

The development has a total cost of NOK 14.8 billion in 2022-kroner, and the field is scheduled to come onstream in the fourth quarter of 2026. There will be joint production from Irpa and Aasta Hansteen through 2031 and then Irpa will continue to produce until 2039.

The development of Irpa will be positive for securing many jobs both onshore and offshore, contributing to extended activity at the supply base in Sandnessjøen, the helicopter base in Brønnøysund, and the operations organisation in Harstad.

According to normal calculation criteria, the development has good social profitability.

Irpa PIP pipe-in-pipe
Irpa pipe-in-pipe solution
Illustration: Equinor

Field development solution
The field will be developed with three wells and an 80-kilometre tie-back pipeline to the Aasta Hansteen platform. As the only planned deepwater development in Norway (in 1350 metres of water), the technical solution will enable new deep and cold-water developments elsewhere.

A newly-developed insulated pipe solution will be used for the pipeline to Aasta Hansteen, due to the extreme cold on the seabed. This innovation employs a swaged pipe-in-pipe design with a combination of insulation and vacuum between the inner and outer pipes, together with monoethyleneglycol (MEG) injection to reduce the formation of hydrates in the multi-phase well stream.

The gas from Irpa will be phased into existing infrastructure over Aasta Hansteen and transported via Polarled to the Nyhamna processing plant. From there, gas is transported via the Langeled pipeline system to customers in the UK and continental Europe.

The partners in the project are Equinor (operator), Wintershall DEA, Petoro, and Shell.

The field is expected to come on stream in 2026.

Facts about Irpa:

  • Irpa (formerly Asterix (6705/10-1)) is a gas discovery in the Vøring Basin in the Norwegian Sea, around 80 kilometres west of the Aasta Hansteen platform.
  • The discovery was made in 2009 and is expected to contain 19.3 billion standard cubic metres of recoverable gas and 0.4 million Sm3 of condensates, approximately 124 million b.o.e. in all.
  • Irpa will extend the life of Aasta Hansteen by seven years, from 2032 to 2039, and contribute to increased gas supplies to Europe
  • The reservoir contains gas in turbidite sandstone of the Late Cretaceous age in the Springar Formation at a depth of 3200 metres. Water depth to seabed: 1350 metres.
  • Partnership: Equinor Energy AS (operator) 51%, Wintershall DEA (19%), Petoro (20%), Shell (10%).
  • The Irpa field will be developed with three wells and an 80-km long insulated pipe-in-pipe pipeline to Aasta Hansteen.
  • The development solution is a subsea template with four well slots tied back to the Aasta Hansteen facility.
  • Estimated working hours offshore during development and modifications: 294,000
  • Investment cost (CAPEX): NOK 14.8 billion and good profitability
  • Significant value creation through jobs and local spin-offs
  • In 2020 and 2021, Aasta Hansteen operations provided jobs equivalent to over 300 person-years, directly and indirectly*
  • The plan for development and operation (PDO) was submitted in November 2022.

*(source: NCS spin-off analysis from KPB/Equinor’s supplier register)