Photo: Ormen Lange development; Source: Shell

Shell’s subsea compression project off Norway to assist in keeping up gas supply to Europe

UK-headquartered energy giant Shell has received approval from the Norwegian authorities for a development plan related to its gas subsea compression project in the Norwegian Sea, which is expected to lead to increased gas extraction from this field.

Back in September 2021, Shell submitted its plan for development and operation (PDO) for the Ormen Lange wet gas subsea compression project to the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy. As reported at the time, the project is expected to unlock an additional 30-50 billion cubic meters of natural gas, leading to an increase in Ormen Lange’s overall gas recovery rate.

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In an update on Friday, the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy informed that it has approved the plan for the further development of the Ormen Lange field.

Terje Aasland, Norway’s Minister of Petroleum and Energy, remarked: “This project will increase recovery from the Ormen Lange field from 75 to 85 per cent, at the same time as gas production from the field is accelerated. This project helps to maintain the gas supply from Norway to our friends in Europe from the middle of this decade.”

Moreover, the goal of the project is to increase gas extraction from Ormen Lange by up to 40 billion standard cubic meters (Sm3) of gas and the expected start-up of the project is anticipated in 2025. The project entails the installation of a wet gas compressor system on the seabed at a 900-metre depth close to the wellheads, increasing gas flow from the reservoir into the wells.

The investments in this project amount to approximately NOK 11.7 billion (around $1.2 billion), and the project is expected to contribute to the development of key expertise and new technology within seabed compression and transmission of power over long distances underwater, with Norwegian supplier companies at the forefront, says the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy.

“This project is another proof of how far you get with high competence and innovation. The innovative seabed compression that will now be used is a first-class technology project that there is reason to be proud of,” concluded Aasland.

The subsea systems for Shell’s Ormen Lange project will be manufactured and installed by OneSubsea and Hitachi Energy has started testing what is said to be the world’s most powerful 24-MVA subsea transformer, which will be supplied to OneSubsea to power the compression system for this field.

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Located 120 kilometres (75 miles) off the coast of Norway, the deep-water Ormen Lange field produces gas, which meets around 20 per cent of the UK’s gas needs. It was discovered in 1997 while the original plan for development and operation was approved in 2004. The field was put into production in 2007.

The Ormen Lange field operates without a platform and includes 19 wells divided between four templates on the seafloor while two 30-inch pipelines transport the gas to the Nyhamna terminal for processing, where it is separated into natural gas and condensate for export prior to being exported via Sleipner to Easington.

Shell is the operator of the project with 17.81 per cent interest while its partners are Petoro (36.48 per cent), Equinor (25.34 per cent), PGNiG Upstream Norway (14.02 per cent) and Vår Energi (6.33 per cent).