Photo: The Snorre A platform in the North Sea. (Photo: Bo B Randulff - Even Kleppa - Woldcam / Equinor)

Equinor brings online Snorre expansion project

Norwegian energy giant Equinor started production from the Snorre Expansion Project in the North Sea off Norway on 12 December 2020.

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This major Increased Oil Recovery project will add almost 200 million barrels of recoverable oil reserves and help extend the productive life of the Snorre field through 2040, Equinor said on Monday.

The Norwegian authorities gave major Equinor and its partners the consent to start up the Snorre expansion project in mid-November 2020.

The project was originally scheduled to come on stream in the first quarter of 2021, but Equinor and partners completed it ahead of schedule.

The Snorre field partnership consists of Equinor (operator) 33.27 per cent, Petoro 30 per cent, Vår Energi 18.55 per cent, Idemitsu Petroleum Norge 9.6 per cent and Wintershall Dea Norge 8.57 per cent.

Geir Tungesvik, Equinor’s executive vice president for Technology, Projects and Drilling, said: “I am proud that we have managed to achieve safe start-up of the Snorre Expansion Project ahead of schedule in such a challenging year as 2020. In addition, the project is set to be delivered more than NOK 1 billion below the cost estimate in the plan for development and operation (PDO)”.

The Snorre field has been on stream since 1992 and there are substantial resources left in the ground.

In December 2017, Equinor and the Snorre partners submitted a modified plan for development and operation (PDO) for the Snorre field to Norwegian authorities. The plan was approved in July 2018.

The recovery factor will now be increased from 46 to 51 per cent, representing significant value for a field with 2 billion barrels of recoverable oil reserves.

The Hywind Tampen project, featuring 11 floating wind turbines that will supply the Snorre and Gullfaks fields with power, is expected to come on stream in the third quarter of 2022.

Some 35 per cent of the power requirement for the two fields is expected to be met using wind power.

According to the original PDO, the Snorre field was intended to be closed in 2011-2014 but continues to produce thanks to the authorities’ consent to extend the field’s life.

Arne Sigve Nylund, Equinor’s executive vice president for Development and Production Norway, said: “Life extension represents good resource management. The new volumes brought to Snorre A help ensure activity offshore and onshore, creating substantial value for the Norwegian society”.

The investments in Snorre Expansion Project total NOK 19.5 billion (2020 value), and the development is profitable even at far lower oil prices than today. The project has had substantial spin-off effects for the supply industry in Norway, particularly in Eastern Norway and in Rogaland.

According to Equinor, 24 new wells will be drilled to recover the new volumes. The wells are divided into six subsea templates. Bundles connecting the new wells to the platform have also been installed, in addition to new risers. The project also includes a new module and modifications on Snorre A.

Snorre Expansion templates sail away from Tønsberg - Equinor
Snorre Expansion templates sail away from Tønsberg. (Photo: Roar Lindefjeld – Espen Rønnevik / Equinor)

After three years of modifications being carried out on a platform on stream, the final preparations to receive oil from the new wells were performed during a major turnaround this autumn.

Although the Snorre Expansion Project had progressed far when the Covid-19 pandemic began, the project has experienced challenges associated with deliveries, closed borders and plants, in addition to the limited workforce on the platform due to infection control measures.

Equinor emphasized that, despite this, production began ahead of schedule.