Statoil marks 30th anniversary of Gullfaks oil

Gullfaks C on its way to the field in 1989; Image by: Leif Berge/Statoil

Norwegian oil company Statoil has marked the 30th anniversary of production from the Gullfaks field off Norway and 2.6 billion barrels of oil since the start of production on December 22, 1986.

The main Gullfaks field lies in block 34/10 in the northern part of the Norwegian sector of the North Sea.

Statoil said on Thursday that Gullfaks was the first field where the company was both developer and operator.

Gunnar Nakken, Senior Vice President for the operations west cluster, said that Gullfaks played a key role in Statoil’s development as an operating company. He added that the company learned a huge amount from the development of Statfjord and from the international companies that were involved on the Norwegian continental shelf in the pioneering days.

“Wise decisions, outstanding subsurface work, the use of new technology and good teamwork in the Norwegian petroleum cluster have more than tripled the expected field life and ensured enormous value creation from Gullfaks. After 30 years, we still believe in Gullfaks, which has seen major investments and undergone extensive upgrades in recent years,” continues Nakken, who is also Statoil’s site manager in Bergen.

The ‘Golden’ Block

The name Gullfaks comes from “Gullblokken,” or Golden Block, as the block was known before its allocation in 1978. At the time, the Golden Block was the first block awarded to a wholly Norwegian group consisting of Statoil, Hydro, and Saga. Norwegian industry accounted for nearly 80% of the total investments.

The first explorations in the 1970s indicated that this was a significant oil and gas reservoir but expected to run out not long into the new millennium. At the moment, the production horizon stretches towards 2040.

First subsea well 

December 22 is also the day Statoil opened the valves of its very first subsea well in Gullfaks. Statoil said that without this technology, it would not have been possible to develop fields such as Åsgard and Troll Oil.

More satellites have subsequently been linked to Gullfaks. Gullfaks South connected with subsea installations came on stream in October 1998, with Phase two started in October 2001, comprising production and export of gas, linked to the A and C platforms.

The Rimfaks satellite, consisting of three subsea templates, has production pipes linked to Gullfaks A, while Skinfaks has a production system linked to the templates in Gullfaks South. Another example is Gimle, situated between Gullfaks and Visund, which is connected to Gullfaks C.

Beating the production decline

After a significant decline in production from Gullfaks in late 2010, production soon picked up again. In 2011 and 2012, wells with compromised integrity were repaired, and the injection of water was stabilized. Water injection has been the main reason for the high recovery factor at Gullfaks. Also, Statoil developed subsea gas compression which accelerates gas production.

The installation of new loading buoys in 2014 is another example of projects that are extending Gullfaks’ lifetime, meaning the field is now expected to continue production until 2040.