When Norway first attended the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, 40 years ago, it was at the beginning of a long journey. Building on its seafaring heritage, the country has developed a strong base for oilfield technology. It’s now leading the way into new territories, backed by state-oil firm Statoil’s aim to have a full subsea factory by 2020.
Kåre Storvik led the first Norwegian delegation to OTC in 1973, when then- Crown Prince of Norway, now King Harald, opened the first Norwegian pavilion. There were about 40 people in total in the delegation, he tells OE. “When Norway first attended OTC in 1973, the Norwegian industry learned a lot and made good contacts.” For Kvaerner, Stovik’s employer at that time, 1973 was a big success because the firm won its first offshore job with a Houston-based company: ConocoPhillips. “That was important. We also saw things that we didn’t think would be good enough for the future,” Storvik says. “We saw the enormous manual burden on the drilling deck and over time in Norway we wanted to automate the drilling derrick. Another area we saw we had to do something was the living quarters.”
By the 1980s, the Norwegians were using the Norwegian Continental Shelf as a laboratory, moving into deeper waters, more difficult reservoirs and soil conditions.
“We have also been very active in subsea engineering,” he says. “It is really where things have developed, not only the well heads, but also now compression and processing, which we are working heavily on. We are moving platform decks to the seabed, that’s like science fiction.”
Storvik says Norway was being smart. It produced complex vessels, first having the hulls made elsewhere and then carrying out more complex work in Norway. With developments in welding and automation, the hulls are now being built in Norway, he says. “The idea is we work smarter.”
This year’s Norway pavilion opening and the anniversary were marked by the attendance of the current Crown Prince and Crown Princess. Norway’s petroleum minister, Ola Borten Moe, also spoke at the pavilion opening, commenting on the achievement of the industry and how it had developed over the past 40 years.
“Fields on the Norwegian Continental Shelf are often in remote areas with no infrastructure in place and in deep waters. Technology development has been necessary to make fields economic. I think this still will be the case in the future. There is a lot more to do and a lot more fields to develop. Norway has developed leading edge technology like subsea compression. Technology development has been important to increase recovery.”
However, he says the goal was more. The average recovery rate is more than 40%; Statoil’s aim is 60%, which still leaves 40% in the ground. OE