Photo: Floatel Superior; Source: Floatel International

New North Sea gig for Floatel unit

Offshore accommodation provider Floatel International has been awarded a new deal for one of its units. As a result, this unit will work in the North Sea, offshore Norway with Vår Energi, a Norwegian oil and gas player.

While announcing the signing of a contract for Floatel Superior on Wednesday, Vår Energi explained that the life extension programme for the Balder FPU continues, thus, the firm secured Floatel’s unit for the 2023 High Activity Period (HAP), which is due to kicks off in May.

Under the terms of this deal, Floatel Superior will be connected to the Balder FPU to be used as living quarters. The unit has been contracted for 13 weeks with a four-week extension option. The 2010-built Floatel Superior is a dynamically positioned (DP-3) semi-submersible accommodation and construction support vessel, which was constructed at the Keppel FELS yard in Singapore.

Inge Bjørkevoll, VP Modifications Projects at Vår Energi, explained: “The 2021 campaign was a great success. Connecting two floaters proved to be a complex but manageable solution thanks to the good cooperation and the common will-to-win mentality between Vår Energi and the suppliers involved. And you don’t change a winning plan.”

Back in August 2022, the Norwegian firm took steps to take over new operatorship in the Balder area thanks to deals for two licences, including two existing discoveries, to increase the firm’s acreage positions in the North Sea off Norway. As explained at the time, these licenses would be worked as part of the further development of the greater Balder area.

The oil and gas player highlighted that the Balder FPU plays “a crucial role” in the long-term commitment to increasing recovery and production from the Balder field in the North Sea. Previously, the vessel was scheduled to retire in 2011. As it is now expected to operate until 2030, it will have to go through an upgrade programme.   

Vår Energi’s HAP 2023 scope entails upgrades to “some of the key production support systems,” surface protection, structural reinforcements, work environment upgrades and a maintenance campaign. In light of this, the Balder FPU upgrade is “a part of the growth strategy” for the Balder area in the North Sea, which outlines that the FPU’s production capacity will be replaced by FPSO Jotun – scheduled to arrive on the field Q3 2024 – by 2030.  

The company plans to extend the lifetime of the Balder field through the Balder X project, in a bid to extend production from the Balder hub beyond 2045. To this end, the company has four ongoing projects, including the Balder FPU life extension through a vessel upgrade and drilling new wells on the Ringhorne III and Ringhorne IV projects.

The firm’s plan for the Balder field also entails an upgrade of the FPSO Jotun and the drilling of 14 new production wells along with one water injection well. In addition, the firm is considering drilling new exploration wells in the area.

In September 2022, Vår Energi changed the cost estimate for this project and underlined that the first oil from Balder X is now expected in the third quarter of 2024, compared to the previous timeline in late 2023.

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The Balder field is situated in production license PL 001, which was acquired in 1965 and the license owners are Vår Energi (operator, with 90 per cent interest) and Mime Petroleum (10 per cent).