Equinor closes Veslefrikk chapter in readiness for decom ops

Equinor closes Veslefrikk chapter in readiness for decom ops

Norwegian state-owned giant Equinor has shut down the Veslefrikk field, located in the North Sea, after more than 30 years of production in preparation for the upcoming decommissioning activities.

Veslefrikk platform; Credit: Øyvind Hagen/Equinor

The timeline for the shutdown of the field was announced in February 2021, when Equinor revealed its plans to permanently shut it down in the spring of 2022 after more than 30 years on stream and over 400 million barrels of oil equivalent.

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An environmental impact assessment was conducted and a decommissioning plan for Veslefrikk was sent to the authorities in the autumn of 2020. Since wells needed to be plugged, platform systems shut down and cleaned, and oil and gas export pipelines cleaned and disconnected before the platform can be brought ashore, the Norwegian giant started plugging wells in January 2021.

Last February, Equinor also provided a timeline for dismantling, explaining that Veslefrikk B was expected to be towed to shore for dismantling in the autumn of 2022 while Veslefrikk A was scheduled to be removed in 2025/26.

Equinor awarded several contracts for the decommissioning activities it has in mind and, after a letter of intent from March 2021 in preparation of the decommissioning activities of Equinor’s Heimdal and Veslefrikk, Aker Solutions formally signed a sizeable contract award with Heerema Marine Contractors at the end of December 2021.

Veslefrikk is an oil field in the Northern parts of the North Sea and Aker Solutions’ scope of work on this field entails the dismantling and recycling of the wellhead platform Veslefrikk A as well as a subsea pre-drilling template at its decommissioning facilities at Eldøyane in Stord, Norway.

As previously reported, the decommissioning plan for Equinor’s Heimdal gas and condensate field in the Northern part of the North Sea includes removing, dismantling, and recycling the main platform topsides and jacket, while the early-phase engineering is expected to begin in 2022 and the structures are currently anticipated to arrive at Stord between 2024 and 2026, with project completion scheduled for 2027.

Following an audit related to the permanent plugging of wells at the Veslefrikk field, carried out by the Norwegian offshore safety regulator during which no irregularities nor improvement points were identified, the state-owned giant in early February also gained consent for disposal of the facilities on the field.

On the heels of this announcement, Equinor informed last Thursday, 17 February, that the production on the Veslefrikk platform was shut down. Based on the announcement, it will be towed to shore in a few months’ time.

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Commenting on the shutdown of the field, Equinor remarked: “The platform began production in 1989, was our first floating production unit, and also controlled the Huldra gas and condensate field, which shut down in 2014. It’s also contributed to us in its more mature stage, as its years of tail production have provided us with valuable experience for a number of our other fields entering the same phase.”

Equinor is the operator of the Veslefrikk field with an 18 per cent interest and its partners are Petoro with 37 per cent, Repsol Norge with 27 per cent, and Wintershall Dea Norge with an 18 per cent stake.