Australia picks operator to keep Northern Endeavour FPSO in ‘lighthouse mode’

Australian government has hired Upstream Production Solutions (Upstream PS) to operate the Northern Endeavour FPSO following an unprecedented event in the offshore oil and gas industry in Australia where an oil and gas company has been placed into liquidation.

Northern Oil and Gas Australia (NOGA), the operator of the Northern Endeavour FPSO, has recently been placed into liquidation, leaving the Australian government with a task to secure a solution for the continued safety and security of the Northern Endeavour FPSO.

Australia’s Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said this was an unprecedented event in the offshore oil and gas industry in Australia.

The Northern Endeavour FPSO is permanently moored between the Laminaria and Corallina oil fields in the Timor Sea.

As the FPSO is currently not in production, the risks associated with safety and the environment are low, according to the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA).

Following NOGA’s liquidation, the Australian government in early February established a taskforce to consider options to deliver a long-term solution for the Northern Endeavour and the Laminaria-Corallina fields, and limit any costs to Australian taxpayers as a result of the NOGA liquidation.

It also announced the establishment of the Northern Endeavour Temporary Operations Program to provide funding to support the operation and maintenance of the Northern Endeavour.

On Monday, February 17, the Australian government said it had signed a new agreement with Upstream PS to operate and maintain the FPSO vessel in lighthouse mode, which is the minimum required for safe operations, with no production and a small crew until a longer-term solution is determined.

Upstream PS is a wholly owned subsidiary of GR Engineering Services.

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia, Keith Pitt, said: “It was essential that we re-crewed the Northern Endeavour quickly, to maintain the safety of the vessel and the surrounding Timor Sea environment, and that has been done.

“Lighthouse mode operations will support the vessel and the associated subsea infrastructure and critical maintenance will be undertaken as required. No petroleum production can occur in lighthouse mode.

“The Australian Government will now start consultations with industry experts to consider a longer-term resolution to the situation,” Minister Pitt said.

GR Engineering’s Managing Director, Geoff Jones, said: “Upstream PS’ involvement in operating and maintaining the Northern Endeavour for over three and a half years and at all times prior to NOGA’s entry into liquidation has facilitated Upstream PS’ quick response and safe re-mobilization to the facility.”