Record-breaking lift completes the Johan Sverdrup field centre

March 22, 2019 09:16 CET | Last modified December 22, 2020 13:53 CET
Night photo of the processing platform lift on the Johan Sverdrup field
Pioneering Spirit moving in to perform world heaviest offshore lift (Photo: Roar Lindefjeld & Espen Rønnevik - Woldcam)

Three days – that’s what it took to lift four of the last pieces in the Johan Sverdrup puzzle into place – the two final platform topsides, a bridge and a flare stack. The processing platform lift was the heaviest lift ever performed offshore.

“Now we are in the process of concluding the installation campaign for the first phase of construction of Johan Sverdrup. Putting the final building blocks of this gigantic project into place is important to ensure start-up of the field as planned in November this year,” says Trond Bokn, senior vice president for Johan Sverdrup.

The two final platform topsides were installed using the heavy lift vessel Pioneering Spirit’s single lift technology. The processing platform lift – nearly 26,000 tonnes – set a new lifting record offshore, and was carried out on Tuesday morning in only four hours with a clearance of just 25 metres from the rest of the field centre. The lift of the utility and living quarters topside, 18,000 tonnes, was completed early Friday morning in just 3.5 hours. From the start of the lifting operation of the processing platform on Tuesday morning until the living quarters topsides had been lifted into place on Friday it took less than 72 hours.

During the same period, the final flare stack and the bridge that links the processing platform to the drilling platform were lifted into place by the heavy lift vessel Thialf. The final bridge that will connect the utility and living quarters topside to the rest of the field centre will be installed in the next possible weather window.

“We have completed the heaviest lift ever performed offshore. Over the course of just three days, we have lifted almost 47,000 tonnes into place. And the whole process was completed safely and efficiently, without harm to people or the environment,” says Ståle Hanssen, responsible for engineering, installation and commissioning in the Johan Sverdrup project. 

“This was all made possible by in-depth planning and, not least, a high level of precision in execution in collaboration with our suppliers and partners,” says Hanssen.

Portraits of Trond Bokn and Ståle Hanssen
Trond Bokn (left), senior vice president for Johan Sverdrup, and Ståle Hanssen, responsible for engineering, installation and commissioning in the Johan Sverdrup project.

The installation and completion phase offshore at Johan Sverdrup started with installation of the jacket for the riser platform in August 2017. After that, an additional three steel jackets, four topsides, two bridges, two flare stacks, 200 km of power cables, and more than 400 km of pipelines have been put in place. More than 2000 vessel days associated with installation and marine activities have been carried out so far, without serious harm to people or the environment.

“We are proud of what the Johan Sverdrup project has accomplished together with our partners and suppliers. At the same time, we’re not finished just yet. A lot of work remains, but with the installation campaign completed, we are on track to start production in November,” says Bokn.

The first item on the agenda is hook-up, testing and commissioning of the two final topsides. This will be followed by testing and ensuring that all four platforms – and the field centre as a whole – function as a single unit. Completing the tie-back of the eight pre-drilled production wells on the field to the drilling platform will also come in addition to this.

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Photo from the transport of the Johan Sverdrup living quarter topside
The Johan Sverdrup utility and living quarters topside in transport from Kværner Stord to Digernessundet where it was lifted on board Pioneering Spirit. (Photo: Even Kleppa - Woldcam / Equinor ASA)
  • Allseas with the heavy lift vessel Pioneering Spirit was responsible for installation of the topsides for the processing platform and the utility and living quarters platform. Pioneering Spirit also installed the drilling platform topsides in June 2018. 
  • Heerema Marine Contractors (HMC) with the heavy lift vessel Thialf is in 2019 responsible for the installation of the two bridges and the flare stack. In 2017 and 2018, Thialf also lifted modules such as the jacket, the riser platform topsides, a flare stack and a bridge for the Johan Sverdrup project.
  • Aker Solutions was responsible for engineering and procurement for the processing platform, while Samsung Heavy Industries was responsible for construction. Aker Solutions has also had corresponding responsibility for the bridge and the flare built by Rosenberg WorleyParsons in Stavanger.
  • A joint venture between Kværner and KBR had responsibility for engineering, procurement and building the utility and living quarters topside.
  • On 15 March of this year, Kværner Stord celebrated that the Johan Sverdrup living quarters topside was ready for sailaway. A similar event for bridges and flares took place at Rosenberg WorleyParsons the day before, 14 March.


  • Johan Sverdrup is one of the five largest oil fields on the Norwegian continental shelf. With estimated recoverable resources of 2.7 billion barrels of oil equivalent, this is one of the most important industrial projects in Norway in the next 50 years.
  • At plateau, Johan Sverdrup will contribute up to 25 per cent of Norway’s total production of oil and gas, while power from shore gives the field carbon emissions of just 0.67 kg CO2 per barrel, which is among the lowest in the world and 25 times lower than the average.
  • The Johan Sverdrup field will be developed in several phases. According to schedule, the first phase will start in November 2019, with an estimated production capacity of 440,000 barrels of oil per day.
  • After start-up of the second phase of the project in the fourth quarter of 2022, the field is expected to produce 660,000 barrels of oil per day when production is at peak. The Plan for Development and Operation (PDO) for the second phase was submitted to the Norwegian authorities in August 2018, and will be processed by the Storting (Norwegian Parliament) in the spring of 2019.
  • The Johan Sverdrup field is expected to create export values of NOK 1430 billion over the lifetime of the field, with income to the Norwegian State and society of more than NOK 900 billion. According to Agenda Kaupang, the field can generate employment of more than 3,400 man-years per year during the operations phase, while during the construction phase between 2015-2025, Johan Sverdrup could generate more than 150,000 man-years in Norway.
  • PARTNERS: Equinor: 40.0267% (operator), Lundin Norway: 22.6%, Petoro: 17.36%, Aker BP: 11.5733% and Total: 8.44%.