With oil spill all sorted out, Aker BP’s North Sea field back online after unplanned downtime
Norway’s oil and gas player Aker BP has restored production at a field located in the central part of the North Sea, close to the British sector. The production restart follows unplanned downtime due to technical issues and an oil spill from the field’s FPSO, which have now been sorted out.
According to Aker BP, the downtime at the Alvheim field resulted from a malfunction in new equipment installed during maintenance activities in the previous quarter, causing a deferral of around one month in the production from the Alvheim area. While explaining that about 50 cubic meters of oil leaked into the sea during the restart of operations after the shutdown, the Norwegian player confirmed that the authorities were notified and proper oil spill response measures were implemented.
Furthermore, no environmental harm has been reported because of this incident since Aker BP immediately closed all valves to stop the discharge from the FPSO Alvheim when satellite images revealed oil on the sea surface at the Alvheim field. A preliminary estimate indicated a discharge of 51 m3 of oil through the produced water outlet.
Aker BP’s emergency response organization mobilized alongside the Norwegian Clean Seas Association for Operating Companies (NOFO) and the Norwegian Coastal Administration to deal with the oil on the sea surface, which chose to use the oil spill response measure known as mechanical degradation, where the propellers on the Esvagt Stavanger standby vessel mixed the oil down into the water column until it dissolved.
Ine Dolve, Aker BP’s SVP Alvheim, commented: “This oil spill response operation has been effective and was characterized by very good teamwork between the involved contributors. We’ve started an investigation of the incident aimed at learning and strengthening our barriers to avoid any similar incidents in the future.”
Moreover, satellite and aerial surveillance measures were also initiated, in addition to the standby vessel’s oil radar. Aker BP claims that the oil spill response measure proved to be “highly effective” and the oil slick was significantly reduced in size as early as the next day. The Norwegian Coastal Administration, in consultation with the company and NOFO, decided to end the operation the next day, on December 1. At this point, no oil was visible on the sea surface in satellite images and flyovers.
Marit Blaasmo, Aker BP’s SVP People & Safety, remarked: “We need robust and effective emergency preparedness in order to minimize consequences in the event that an undesirable incident should nevertheless occur. Our cooperation with NOFO and the Norwegian Coastal Administration shows that the Norwegian shelf has sound and effective oil spill preparedness in place, should the need arise.”
When the PDO for the Alvheim field was submitted to the Norwegian government in 2004, the reserves estimate was 171 million barrels of oil equivalents. The production from the field exceeded this volume in early 2014. Aker BP highlights that the amount produced from the Alvheim area in total is more than three times the PDO estimate.
The Alvheim field consists of the Kneler, Boa, Kameleon, and East Kameleon structures, subsequently joined by the Viper-Kobra structures and the Gekko discovery. The Alvheim area includes satellite fields Bøyla, Vilje, Volund, and Skogul. All of these fields produce via the FPSO Alvheim, which came on stream in June 2008.
While the Skogul field was tied into Alvheim and started production in 2020, Frosk started production in 2023. Aker BP also recently kicked off production from the Kobra East & Gekko (KEG) oil and gas fields a few months ahead of schedule.
The company is also developing Tyrving in the Alvheim area, which is estimated to come on stream in 2025.