Statoil kicks off drilling ops at Oseberg Vestflanken 2 using new Cat J rig

Norwegian oil company Statoil has started drilling at the Oseberg Vestflanken 2 development located offshore Norway, using the Cat J rig Askepott. 

Statoil started drilling at Oseberg Vestflanken 2 in the early hours of Sunday, February 25, the company informed on Monday, adding that the project could boast break-even reduction from $34 to $16 per barrel.

Statoil submitted the plan for development and operation (PDO) of Oseberg Vestflanken 2 to Norwegian authorities in December 2015 and Norway’s Ministry of Petroleum and Energy sanctioned it in June 2016.  The Oseberg Vestflanken 2 development consists of an unmanned wellhead platform with ten well slots. In addition, two existing subsea wells will be reused. All wells will be remote-controlled from Oseberg field centre.

The investment budget for Oseberg Vestflanken 2 has been reduced from NOK 8 billion to NOK 6.5 billion. Recoverable reserves have increased, and several digitization measures have been initiated.

Drilling is performed by the brand new Cat J rig Askepott, purchased by the license. This is the first job performed by this rig.

“This state-of-the-art rig will increase the safety and efficiency of our drilling operations. However, with a new rig, new crew and a new drilling contractor, it is important that we spend time getting familiar with the equipment and crew in the initial phase,” says drilling superintendent Niels Hoogerheide.

The project has therefore invested in a drilling simulator on board Askepott, Statoil said.

“This will be a useful tool both for getting familiar with the drilling equipment prior to drilling operations, and to practice after a period off. The simulator is expensive, but I am positive that this will pay off through safer and more efficient drilling operations,” says Terje Masdal, project manager for Oseberg Vestflanken 2.


Unmanned platform


The rig will drill through the unmanned Oseberg H, which is Statoil’s smallest platform, and the first of its kind. The platform has no facilities, no helideck, and no lifeboats.

During maintenance visits in the operations phase all facilities will be located on the vessel connected to the platform, a solution that was also used in the hook-up phase last autumn. Also here, the project has organized simulator training prior to the operations.

“We have learned some from Sleipner B, the closest you get to Oseberg H in the current portfolio, but there will still be some groundbreaking work. This makes this drilling project particularly exciting. Oseberg H will be remote-controlled from Oseberg field centre, and good interaction with the field centre will be therefore be important,” Hoogerheide says.


One team


The collaboration with the project that built the platform and the suppliers KCA Deutag and Baker Hughes GE is good, according to Hoogerheide.

“We have managed to build a team that works closely together. This allows us to use personnel across the organization, and people take ownership of deliveries. The Oseberg Vestflanken 2 well concepts were developed through teamwork with all parties, enabling optimal optimisation and standardisation,” he says.

Due to the weather situation in the North Sea the start of production drilling at Oseberg Vestflanken has taken somewhat longer than initially assumed.

“Safety is always our number one priority, and we take no chances when we perform these types of operations offshore. We have adjusted the drilling plan and will complete the project in accordance with the original plan,” Masdal says.

Cat J Askepott drilling activities on Oseberg Vestflanken 2 are planned to last for about 2.5 years. Oseberg H is the first location, and a total of nine wells are planned.