In Norway, Balder Signals Party Still On

December 26, 2019

New era of oil: Vår Energi's Balder-Ringhorn infrastructure, the Ringhorn platform (Photo: Vår Energi)
New era of oil: Vår Energi's Balder-Ringhorn infrastructure, the Ringhorn platform (Photo: Vår Energi)

Norway at years’ end is marking “50 years of oil” and ushering in decades more oil wealth with the go-ahead of the Balder-Ringhorn life extension project along with dozens of other life-extenders.

The North Sea oilfield was the first discovered off Norway in 1967, and it helped launch a decades-long Norwegian wealth build-up marked by the sudden arrival of quality municipal services and well-capitalized companies. One of those outfits — drilling contractor, Seadrill — announced at Christmas that it’ll be along for a new-age Balder-Ringhorn drilling campaign.

It took 30 years for Balder to become a subsea development tied-back to the floating production, storage and offloading vessel, the Balder FPSO. It took considerably less time to ink a plan that’ll unite the Balder and Ringhorn fields — the latter includes a combined accommodations, drilling and wellhead platform — in one life-extending project.

The new Balder Future plan, with its plan for development and operation, or PDO, is now under review by parliamentarians. Vår Energi, the operator, says Balder Future will cost 20 billion kroner ($2.25 billion) to develop and will include several new subsea templates and 14 new production wells in 125 meters of water.

Renewal and life extension for the field comes with life-extending upgrades of the Jotun FPSO. When the field comes on-stream in 2022, it’ll mean 136 million new barrels of oil equivalent for Vår Energi (90%) and private-equity backed, Mime Petroleum (10%).

The office of newly appointed Norwegian Oil and Energy Minister, Silvi Listhaug, trumpeted the local content the project comprises: “The operator expects that about 70% of project deliveries will come from Norwegian suppliers.”

Listhaug’s office then wrote to Norwegians in newspaper Aftenposten, saying that another “life extension field”, Ekofisk, is celebrating 50 years since it kickstarted Norway on its path to staggering oil wealth and technological leadership. The New Year’s Eve find in 1969 sparked an industry that now employees, by the minister’s count, some 140,000.

Her letter coincided with Seadrill celebrating what will be a two-year, Vår Energi drilling campaign at Balder Future. Still just a PDO, although one implying considerable scale, the project would not have shown up on some of end-of-year prognoses for 2020, and it’s just “part of” the Balder X project, a larger plan envisioning 200 MM boe.

Balder Future is among upwards of 30 fields or projects offshore Norway that are already considered life-extension projects or tail-end projects of some note. Norwegian authorities, however, report oil company surveys suggest some 150 increased oil and gas projects of all manner of scale are in the works.



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