End of an era for Ekofisk

September 13, 2013

The oldest permanent production platform on the Norwegian shelf ceased production at the start of this month, after more than 39 years in active service. 

Ekofisk 2/4 A started producing in the Ekofisk field in the spring of 1974 and has produced 872MM boe. Peak production was 70,000 barrels. 

One well alone – A-20 – contributed to production of more than 87MM boe and was the last well to be shut down.

Preparations for plugging the platform's 24 wells have started, with the Rowan Gorilla 6 drilling rig due to start work at the start of 2014, with completion scheduled to be completed during 2016.

“This is truly a milestone, for ConocoPhillips and the entire offshore industry,” says president Europe Steinar Våge. "Ekofisk was Norway’s first oil field, but significant resources still remain in the reservoir. So this is in not the end."

Våge says Conoco Phillips is planning for Ekofisk to be a key player on the Norwegian shelf in 2050. 

A new well – Z 17 – has recently been drilled and is ready to start producing from the same reservoir zone as 2/4 A, when the newly installed platform Ekofisk 2/4 Z is ready, due towards the end of 2013.

Fully developed, the 2/4 Z platform will have 35 production wells.

Conoco Phillips outlines some of the history of Ekofisk 2/4 A:

Ekofisk 2/4 A's steel jacket was constructed in France. Due to the rapid progress plan, construction of the first platforms was distributed across multiple locations and countries. The model which was used as a basis for construction was developed for oil production in the Gulf of Mexico, where the conditions are very different from the North Sea.

Traditional solutions weren’t always the best, and this resulted in many challenges. The tragic incident with a fire on Ekofisk 2/4 A in 1975, in which three people died when a rescue capsule fell down after being lowered incorrectly, particularly bears mentioning. The fire occurred in the splash zone – where a riser had rusted. It later emerged that corrosion was created in this area when the hot oil rose up through the risers. Co-cooperation with the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate and Veritas resulted in the risers being replaced with a more robust and safer patent in the splash zone.

Monitored from shore 

Over the years, many people have worked and been trained on board the platform. Up to 1996, the platform had a crew of about 35 people, but has been remotely monitored since. This first took place from the control room on Ekofisk 2/4 K, while in recent years production has been monitored from the onshore operations centre in Tananger. A roving crew of eight people have been responsible for maintenance and have visited the platform daily. The months ahead will be hectic on board, through production has stopped. 

Though the oldest platform has been shut down, the Ekofisk field still has several exciting and productive years ahead.



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