Photo: Martin Linge field; Source: Equinor

Barrier deficiencies force Equinor to drill fresh Martin Linge wells

Norwegian energy giant Equinor has decided to drill new wells on its operated Martin Linge field, located offshore Norway, due to barrier deficiencies discovered in previous wells.

The North Sea Martin Linge field is an oil and gas discovery made in 1978. The field is located 42 kilometres west of Oseberg, in 115 metres of water.

Equinor became the operator of the Martin Linge field in March 2018 and it holds a 70 per cent interest and its partner Petoro holds the remaining 30 per cent interest.

According to its update on Tuesday, Equinor has conducted an in-depth analysis of the wells drilled at Martin Linge before it took over as the operator of the field from Total in 2018.

This review concludes that several of the wells do not have the necessary barriers and the Norwegian company , therefore, plans to drill new wells in order to ensure safe production.

In four gas wells that were drilled at Martin Linge before 2018, well barrier deficiencies that are considered to make them inappropriate for safe production have been established.   

Petoro has carried out an independent assessment of well barriers that support the operator’s view.

“The wells are considered safe as they are now, but we will keep them plugged and under continuous monitoring until we have reduced the pressure in the formation by producing from other wells. Safety is always priority number one”, says Geir Tungesvik, acting EVP for Technology, Projects and Drilling in Equinor.   

The Martin Linge plant is designed for a mixture of oil and gas and needs gas wells that produce at a certain rate for start-up and production.    

“Our number one priority is to ensure safe start-up of the field. We will therefore plan to drill up to three new gas wells in addition to the two remaining wells from the plan for development and operation (PDO) for the field to produce as originally planned”, says Tungesvik. 

The costs of drilling up to three new wells total about NOK 2 billion ($224.3 million).   

The Maersk Intrepid drilling rig has recently started the drilling operations at Martin Linge.  

The Martin Linge field development comprises a jacket-based integrated wellhead, production and accommodation platform and a permanently anchored oil storage vessel.

When the field comes on stream, the gas will be transported through a new pipeline connecting the field to the existing pipeline going to St. Fergus, Scotland.

The oil will be processed on the storage vessel and transported from the field in shuttle tankers.

The platform was connected to shore power in December 2018.

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