Troll A platform in the North Sea; Credit: Øyvind Gravås/Even Kleppa - Equinor

Equinor unveils over $1 billion investment to lift the gas production bar at giant North Sea field

Norwegian state-owned energy giant Equinor has disclosed plans to develop further gas infrastructure at a huge oil and natural gas field in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea. This endeavor, which aims to bolster Europe’s energy security, will come with a price tag of more than $1 billion.

Troll A platform in the North Sea; Credit: Øyvind Gravås/Even Kleppa - Equinor

According to Equinor, the vast resource base at the Troll field has made it necessary to plan the development and production in three phases. In line with this, Phase 1 entailed the gas resources in Troll East, which resulted in the Troll A platform, the Kollsnes gas plant, and associated infrastructure. This gas is exported to Europe via the Zeepipe pipelines.

The oil from Phase  2, which covered resources in Troll West, leading to the Troll B and C platforms and associated infrastructure, is sent to the oil terminal at Mongstad. The first part of Phase 3 involved producing the gas cap overlying the oil column in Troll West, while continuing to produce oil. The produced gas goes to Troll A and onward to existing infrastructure.

This project is now being expanded further as Equinor and its partners have decided to invest just over NOK 12 billion (close to $1.13 billion) to boost the gas infrastructure in the Troll West gas area in a bid to accelerate production from the reservoir and maintain the current high gas export levels from the Troll and Kollsnes value chain leading up to 2030.

Kjetil Hove, Equinor’s Executive Vice President for Exploration and Production Norway, stated: “We have been working alongside our partners, Gassco and the Norwegian authorities to maximise energy deliveries from the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS) since 2022. This project will allow Troll and Kollsnes to continue their substantial contributions to the role of the NCS in guaranteeing European energy security in challenging times. The gas from Troll alone meets around 10 % of Europe’s demands.”

As a result, the second stage of the Troll Phase 3 (TP3 II) project encompasses eight new wells from two new templates with subsea controls extended from existing templates while a new gas flowline will be laid as a tie-back to the Troll A platform. This project is expected to require modification work on Troll A and the first wells are slated to come on stream at the end of 2026.

With the new infrastructure anticipated to accelerate production from the reservoir equivalent to about 55 billion standard cubic meters of gas, the annual contribution from the new development will amount to around 7 billion standard cubic meters of gas at its peak.

The maximum production from Troll used to be 121 million standard cubic meters of gas per day, however, this has increased to 129 million thanks to recent upgrades at the Kollsnes processing plant. Equinor claims that the production from the new Troll wells will amount to about 20 million standard cubic meters of gas per day.

The first stage of gas production from the Troll West gas asset, which started in 2021 and included eight wells, a new pipeline to the Troll A platform, and a new inlet module, helped extend plateau production by five to seven years. Equinor’s data indicates that the second stage will further extend plateau production by around four years and reduce the production decline over the next 10-12 years.

Multiple players win assignments for Troll gas expansion project

The Norwegian state-owned energy heavyweight has already handed out several contracts for the second stage of the Troll Phase 3 project. In line with this, OneSubsea is in charge of the front-end engineering and design (FEED) contract with an option for detailed engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) of subsea production systems, including umbilicals. As the option, worth around NOK 2 billion (over $188 million), has been exercised, the umbilicals will be manufactured in Moss while structures and manifolds will be assembled in Egersund.

Moreover, the pipelaying contract for the 36-inch gas pipeline has been awarded to Allseas and Odfjell Drilling’s Deepsea Aberdeen drilling rig will spud eight production wells on the Troll field in connection with TP3 II. The drilling activities, scheduled to start in late 2025 or early 2026, are expected to cost about NOK 1.3 billion ($122.3 million), excluding integrated drilling services, index adjustment, and efficiency and fuel reduction incentives.

Aside from these, contracts are also expected to be put in place for the fabrication and installation of pipeline termination structures, umbilicals, connection pipes, and similar, in addition to the installation of the subsea production system. This scope of work has an estimated value of over NOK 1 billion (more than $94 million).

While Aker Solutions previously secured a FEED study for modifications to the Troll A platform, evaluations are set to be ongoing through the summer to select suppliers for the detailed engineering, procurement, and construction work on the platform, with contract awards also planned towards the end of the summer.

The partners in the Troll field are Equinor Energy (30.58%, operator), Petoro (56%), Norske Shell (8.10%), TotalEnergies EP Norge (3.69%), and ConocoPhillips Skandinavia (1.62%). With substantial reserves still underground, the Norwegian giant describes this field as Norway’s largest gas producer, which has an annual export volume corresponding to an estimated 10% of Europe’s gas consumption.

As the Troll A platform is electrified, the production from the platform is said to have very low CO2 emissions. The gas is sent to Kollsnes, where it is treated, dehydrated, and compressed before being transported to Europe via the Zeepipe pipelines. While Gassco is the operator of Kollsnes, which is powered by electricity, Equinor is the technical service provider.

Geir Tungesvik, Equinor’s Executive Vice President of Projects, Drilling & Procurement (PDP), commented: “This is a highly profitable project that will secure high gas production from the Troll field. The partnership’s decision is important in order for us to fully utilise the capacity of existing infrastructure.

We’ve chosen to use solid, familiar suppliers, most of which already have framework agreements with us. It’s a clear advantage that several of them have experience from the previous stage of the Troll Phase 3 development.”

Equinor has been actively working on expanding its oil and gas arsenal, as confirmed by a recent oil discovery in the North Sea, which was made using one of Odfjell Drilling’s semi-submersible rigs. Following a value-neutral asset swap agreement with Petoro, Hove confirmed that the development and the value creation on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS) would continue.