Technip in the Think Tank

Published Dec 12, 2003
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Decommissioning will no doubt become an important market segment in the North Sea in years to come. However, it requires huge investments, and the time perspective is long. Developing the most versatile equipment might be a way to secure these investments. At the moment Technip-Coflexip is considering two horses in hope that one of them might tempt ConocoPhillips.

However, ConcoPhillips have chosen which companies to consider for the contracts coming up this year. ‘New concept will have to wait until next round, probably in 2006 or 2007,’ says Stig S. Kvendseth at ConcosPhillips.

Norway is committed to the OSPAR convention, which details requirements for dismantling and removal of offshore installations. That is why there is little doubt decommissioning will become an increasing business area in the North Sea in years ahead. But while the first contracts are awarded towards the end of 2003, there might be several years between various other contracts come up for tender.

Two Horses
Decommissioning demands huge investments. Technip-Coflexip has already successfully completed several decommission tasks in the UK sector of the North Sea. Now Technip Offshore Norge AS is dedicated to getting their share of the ‘decommission cake’ on the Norwegian sector. They are now in the think tank searching for the right strategy ahead.

‘The first important step is the ConocoPhillips contracts,’ says Technip Offshore Norge’s Sales and Business Development Manager, Hallvard Hasselknippe.’

‘At the moment we are in the process of planning our strategy. Obviously our investments within decommissioning will be influenced by ConocoPhillips’ decisions,’ he says.

At the moment Technip Offshore Norge (TONOR) is co-operating with Master Marine, which was one of the pre-qualified contractors for the single-lift FEED study in Phillips’ Ekofisk decommissioning project. Their ‘Sea Fork’ concept has a capacity to lift approximately 16.000 ton. ‘Sea Fork’ has suction anchors placed on the seafloor to eliminate excessive heave motions.

Installation & Decommissioning Vessel (IDV)
‘We are also working on a new concept, a further development of the TPG 500 technology that successfully lifted 30,000 tonnes on the TFE Elgin project, which we believe will have some advantages over the competing concepts,’ Hasselknippe says. ‘Two distinct advantages of the IDV development are that it is placed firmly on the seabed, providing a very stable work platform, eliminating dynamic motions during preparation phase and the lift itself.’

‘When considering what investments are the best for decommissioning, the IDV also has the advantage of being a multipurpose jack-up,’ Hasselknippe continues. ‘In addition to decommissioning it lends itself well also as an installation vessel for decks or subsea installations or alternatively as accommodation, while we await further decommissioning contracts.’

‘Of course there are other multi-purpose installations. But the IDV has the advantage of being fixed on the seafloor, which provides a more stable working platform and thereby facilitates a safer operation than a floater,’ Hasselknippe points out.

Considering the huge investment these two concepts will require, Technip will as soon as possible make their selection and then only pursue the preferred concept, according to Hasselknippe. But as the IDV will be considered in 2006 at the earliest, Technip might be riding two horses for a few more years.

‘Our IDV development came after ConocoPhillips announced their first tender for FEED studies. That is why it has not been a contender in this first round. Whether it will be considered in the second round depends on ConocoPhillips and their partners,’ Hasselknippe says. ‘When ConocoPhillips in April 2003 gives a signal to what they would like to see in the final bidding round, we will make the final decision to which concept we will continue developing.’ That could lead to Technip abandoning their own concept if SeaFork is chosen by ConocoPhillips.

‘At the moment we are analyzing the market with regard to how many installations we know will be removed over the next 15 years, what kind of installations they are, in what depth they are located, etc. to find out what we can reasonably expect to get out of the market,’ Hasselknippe says.

‘ConocoPhillips prefer to see two competing decommissioning hulls realized,’ he says, ‘which again will have a significant impact on the market evaluation.

Technip Offshore Norge is developing its decommissioning strategy in close co-operation with the Technip-Coflexip group in Paris and Technip-Coflexip’s UK branch.

‘We have been involved in most decommissioning projects in the British sector,’ Hasselknippe points out. ‘We therefore have a lot of experience to draw on.

Since 1993 Technip-Coflexip has been involved in some of the North Sea’s largest decommissioning projects, including BHP Argyll, MSR Emerald, Amerada Hess Durward/ Dauntless, Phillips Maureen and Kerr McGee Hutton. The company recovered 90 percent of subsea flowline systems, 90 percent of subsea umbilical systems, 100 percent of subsea structures and 60 percent of riser systems.

TONOR also took part in the removal of the Tommeliten subsea equipment. Tommeliten was Statoil's first development assignment. The small discovery was brought on stream in 1988 through subsea wells tied back to the existing Edda platform on a neighbouring field. It ceased production in 1998. Further, they were involved in the Frigg/Frøy decommissioning for Heerema/TotalFinaElf

Technip-Coflexip has also been responsible for 10 major offshore floatover operations in different parts of the world. This experience is valuable both in the design of the platform as well as the planning and actual operation of the unit.

The OSPAR Decision 98/3 generally bans dumping or abandonment of offshore installations no longer in use, though exceptions can be made. Fifteen countries take part in OSPAR convention (the convention for the protection of the marine environment of the north-east Atlantic) from Norway and Iceland in the North to Spain and Portugal in the south. The member countries have agreed to hold regular meetings at ministerial level. The next meeting is scheduled for 2003.

Source: The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD)

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