Photo: Aasta Hansteen platform; Credit: Woldcam/Equinor

Equinor picks contractor for work on its gas project in Norwegian Sea

Norwegian state-owned energy giant Equinor has awarded a new contract to Aibel, a compatriot energy services company, for extensive modifications and preparation of the Aasta Hansteen platform for the tie-in of another gas field.

Aibel estimates the deal for extensive modifications and preparation of the Aasta Hansteen platform for tie-in of the Irpa field – previously Asterix – to be “a large contract,” which will employ over 200 people at peak. The company uses the term “large” for contracts where the value is between NOK 1.5 (about $147 million) and 2.5 billion (over $245 million).

Aibel highlighted that the engineering, procurement, construction, installation and commissioning (EPCIC) contract was an option when the front end engineering and design (FEED) deal was awarded last year.

Mads Andersen, Aibel’s President and CEO, remarked: “The contract award is an acknowledgement to the organisation that has worked with the FEED. At the same time, it confirms Aibel’s leading position in modifications of infrastructure on the Norwegian continental shelf. We have a long history as main supplier within this area and look forward to providing an integrated solution in close cooperation with Equinor.”

Furthermore, the Norwegian firm outlined that the management and engineering for this project will be carried out from its office in Stavanger with the support of the offices in Oslo and Singapore. Additionally, the project will exploit synergies with Aibel’s existing maintenance and modification contract for Aasta Hansteen, which the Harstad office leads. On the other hand, prefabrication and module assembly will occur at the company’s yards in Haugesund and Thailand.

Equinor submitted a plan for the development and operation (PDO) of the Irpa gas field on 22 November 2022 to the country’s Ministry of Petroleum and Energy (MPE). This project has a planned investment of over $1.4 billion.

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Located 80 kilometres west of the Aasta Hansteen platform in the Norwegian Sea, the Irpa field will be developed as a so-called tie-in to Aasta Hansteen, enabling export through the 482-kilometre-long gas pipeline Polarled to the Nyhamna gas processing plant.

Moreover, Aibel underscored that comprehensive modifications must be made to the Aasta Hansteen platform to receive production from the Irpa field. This will also extend Aasta Hansteen’s lifespan by seven years. These modifications entail, among other things, integration work on the platform’s existing processing equipment as well as the construction and installation of an approximately 450-tonne monoethylene glycol module (MEG module).

The Norwegian contractor confirmed that the engineering work is expected to start immediately, while the first offshore activities are planned for February 2023. The project is expected to be completed in 2026.

Regarding Aibel’s other deals with Equinor, it is worth noting that the firm entered into a ten-year agreement in May 2022 to ensure a close and long-term strategic collaboration. In addition, Aibel secured an extension last week for maintenance and modification (M&M) work on the Johan Sverdrup field in the North Sea off Norway.