Photo: Palfinger

Austrian player to furnish Aker BP’s new offshore platforms with remotely operated cranes

Norwegian oil and gas company, Aker BP, has inked a deal with Palfinger, an Austrian manufacturer of hydraulic systems, for the provision of remotely operated cranes for its new offshore platforms in Norway.

Palfinger revealed on Monday that it has been awarded a framework agreement to deliver and further develop the technology for remote-controlled cranes, which will enable it to set new standards for offshore cranes together with its partner and client, Aker BP.

The deal, which the Austrian player described as a world first, will enable it to equip Aker BP’s new installations – NOA Fulla and a new process and wellhead platform (NPC)/King Lear – with offshore cranes based on new technology and standardisation to increase the safety level and reduce operating costs.

NOA Fulla; Source: Aker BP
NOA Fulla; Source: Aker BP

The deal between Aker BP and Palfinger is valid for ten years, however, the Norwegian company has an option to extend it even further. The framework agreement covers the development and implementation of remote-controlled cranes as well as the delivery of a total of six electric cranes for four platforms.

Ine Dove, SVP Operations & Asset Development at Aker BP, remarked: “NOA Fulla and NCP/King Lear are major field developments on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. The cranes Palfinger will deliver through the frame agreement represent a very important delivery in our operations strategy where remote work and automation are key drivers.”

According to Palfinger, both NOA Fulla and NCP/King Lear developments are planned with advanced technology standards in terms of equipment.

To remind, Aker BP and Equinor agreed back in June 2020 to jointly develop and operate the licences Krafla, Fulla, and the North of Alvheim (NOAKA) on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, with LOTOS Exploration and Production Norge as a license partner. 

As previously reported, Aker BP, as the operator, is targeting a final investment decision (FID) for the NOA Fulla field development in the NOAKA area – located between Oseberg and Alvheim in the Norwegian North Sea – in 2022.

Related Article

The NOAKA area holds several oil and gas discoveries with gross recoverable resources estimated at more than 500 million barrels of oil equivalents, with further exploration and appraisal potential. In September 2021, Aker BP awarded the first batch of front-end engineering and design (FEED) contracts – worth nearly $81.3 million – to its alliance partners for the NOA Fulla field development.

Furthermore, the Norwegian player is also planning an FID for the new NPC on Valhall with a tie-in of the King Lear field this year. The concept consists of NPC, which has a bridge connection to the Valhall field centre and an unmanned platform on King Lear around 50 km from the field centre. In addition, a total of 19 wells are planned and the concept also includes considerable modification work on the Valhall field centre.​ Aker BP awarded several FEED contracts for this project in December 2021.

Related Article

Within its statement, Palfinger confirmed it started working on the concept for remote operated offshore cranes (ROOC) together with Aker BP and Optilift in 2017, explaining that the ROOC technology for the new platforms will be based on the work done in the past years as well as the recent deliveries of four offshore cranes to the Valhall IP platform.

As remote operations are an important part of Aker BP’s strategy to reduce risk and exposure of personnel working on their assets as well as optimize operating costs, Palfinger believes that its research and development in this field proved to be decisive.

Andreas Hille, Senior Vice President Product Line Management and Engineering at Palfinger, commented: “Together we are setting new standards providing modular and scalable offshore cranes with integrated remote and autonomous control technologies.”

While the provision of safe and secure working conditions is one of the main drivers for remote and autonomous control, Palfinger further added that the technology is also expected to yield huge cost savings.