Draugen continues to be the driving force

Published

May 23rd 2020

Draugen is undoubtedly the most important driving force in OKEA. The field produces approximately 20,000 barrels of oil and gas every day. Even in light of low oil prices and the coronavirus crisis, production is going at full speed.

Tor Bjerkestrand, SVP Operations, is now managing the Draugen field from his home office in Lomtjønna 7, not too far away from OKEA’s offices at Råket – a ten-minute drive from the centre of Kristiansund. The company office is quiet, but in the various home offices, and not in the least on Draugen, the work that is required to maintain production in a safe and sound manner is ongoing.

“Fortunately, none of our employees have contracted the coronavirus. We are always prepared for any crisis and were able to take a number of measures swiftly. We maintain full control of operations even though the crew on the platform have been halved. We are close by while still keeping a safe distance from each other.”

The extraordinary situation entails much work with altered plans, contact with contractors and among the licence partners. To operate a platform is a jig-saw puzzle where all the pieces must always be in place – crisis or no crisis.

Tor Bjerkestrand is managing operations on Draugen from his home office.

No serious incidents

Draugen is a world-class field – and has been since first oil in 1993. There are still considerable remaining reserves to be produced. OKEA assumed the operatorship for Draugen in 2018 as part of a major transaction with Shell. 2019 was the first full operating year as operator. It was a year with high uptime, good operation and no serious incidents.

«The first operating year was a very good one, and we reached all our «hairy» goals. We have soon produced for a value of NOK five billion in little more than one year. This was the main contribution to OKEA’s approximately NOK three billion in operating revenues in 2019. The stable and good production has continued also this year. The licence partners agree that our goal is to extend production at least until 2035. We are a small company which has assumed the operatorship from a giant, and we have a very good track record.”

He emphasizes the very good cooperation in the licence partnership, with positive feedback attesting to the ability of «little» OKEA in assuming the operatorship.  

«I am proud of the close and fruitful cooperation between Trondheim and Kristiansund. We who are in charge of operations have received full authorization and support from the main office. Freedom under responsibility, as I see it, boosts productivity and creativity.”  

Energy and the coronavirus

OKEA is working on identifying solutions for electrifying Draugen with power from onshore. It is a prerequisite that such a project must be profitable. Considerable efforts have also been invested in identifying new reserves in the area surrounding Draugen. With the current low oil prices and a global economy on the back burner due to the coronavirus, plans will change for most people. This includes OKEA, says Tor Bjerkestrand.

“We are always planning for any worst-case scenarios. We are now producing as usual, with high uptime and ordinary maintenance. We always depend on many experts to ensure safe operations. There is not much we can do about oil prices. Now, we have to postpone what can be postponed. It is no mean feat to manage two crises at the same time – but we are handling it.”

On board Draugen, employees are now maintaining a distance of two metres between them in the mess hall.

Full throttle for four weeks

Offshore Installation Manager Frank Stensland has been offshore for four consecutive weeks. Now, a different OIM is due to take over. There are usually between 60 and 80 people staffing the platform. During the last weeks, a controlled reduction in the workforce has been implemented, leaving only 35 on board. Last week, there was a change of shift with eight new arrivals from onshore; they had all been in quarantine prior to travelling offshore. There are several on board who have had to extend their offshore stays to three or four weeks due to the coronavirus situation. Stensland now hopes that all offshore employees stay healthy, enabling us to resume ordinary two-four shifts as soon as possible.

«We are producing 20,000 barrels per day as planned. We maintain the necessary manpower to ensure safe operations and sound emergency preparedness. One of the most important things now is to avoid getting infection on board, and also to prevent transmission if that were to happen. The fear is that we have to shut down; we are doing everything to prevent that.”  

Offshore Installation Manager Frank Stensland has been offshore for four consecutive weeks and reduced the staffing during the coronavirus crisis.

There are a great number of measures on Draugen, including posters with reminders, and people are keeping a distance of two meters between them at all times and in all situations. There is even a dedicated «disinfectant guard» by the entrance to the mess hall who ensures that ALL rub their hands with alcohol-based disinfectant before eating. Both the gym as well as the cinema is closed; there is less social interaction than what used to be the case.

“We are saying that it is so sad being onshore that we may as well be on board. When we have reduced manpower on board, everybody is doing their utmost to keep up the production. I am impressed with their efforts,» says the installation manager.

More efficient operations

During 2019, OKEA has initiated several projects for efficient energy management and increased efficiency on Draugen. Stable operations with fewer disruptions of production reduce emissions in addition to increasing the value of the field. The goal is to continuously improve the efficiency of the power turbines and the turbines for water injection. OKEA has also started feasibility studies for delivering power from onshore. This encompasses both technical and financial feasibility. The goal is to reduce the environmental footprint from the production. 

Prevention of major accidents and incidents is what is most important in all OKEA’s activities. After assuming the operatorship of Draugen in 2018, OKEA has implemented a large barrier management project.

To ensure additional resources to Draugen, two wells were drilled in and in close proximity to the Draugen field in 2019. Drilling operations were completed according to plan, considerably under budget and with good results pertaining to quality, health, safety and the environment.

Draugen is a mature field in the tail end of production. This entails that the emissions from the oil production now average approximately 26 kilos of CO2 equivalents per barrel of oil equivalent (boe). Emissions will increase over the next years if the production is not supplied with extra resources. As 2019 came to a close, 86 people were employed offshore on Draugen, and 68 onshore in Kristiansund. Including staff from approximately 130 contractors, the total number of man-years is about 400. This makes the company one of the largest employers in the private sector in Kristiansund.

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