Statoil is gearing up for sailaway of its Valemon platform topsides later this month after the unit was loaded out at Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) at the weekend as the keenly watched fabrication project passed its first key test.
Construction of the Nkr2.3 billion ($381.5 million) deck at the South Korean yard marks the first time that Statoil has selected an Asian contractor, rather than a tried-and-trusted Norwegian builder, to build an entire topsides.
All industry eyes are on the project watching for any cost increases or slippage in the schedule – especially in the light of overruns and delays on Eni’s Goliat facility being built at compatriot Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) – given Statoil has awarded other fabrication contracts to lower-cost South Korean yards.
The 9750-tonne Valemon deck was on Sunday successfully loaded out onto Dockwise transport vessel Dockwise Triumph ready for expected sailaway on 14 June.
Statoil’s director for the Valemon project, Trond Bokn, informed Upstream the load-out was marginally delayed from an earlier targeted date of late March or early April, although the operator had “incorporated extra time and flexibility into our plans given this was our first topsides to be built in South Korea”.
The commissioned topsides is due to arrive at the North Sea gas and condensate field off Norway after a 45-day voyage, ready for installation work to be carried out by the Saipem 7000 heavy-lift vessel.
Hook-up of the facilities, which also falls under SHI’s contractual responsibility though it is using sub-contractors, will then be carried out ahead of final testing and connection of wells before production starts.
Bokn said the timing of the topsides delivery was in line with the original schedule for field start-up in the fourth quarter, which is still seen as “realistic”.
However, the company refused to comment on whether costs of building the topsides had increased beyond the budgeted Nkr2.3 billion figure, which Bokn said was an estimate that did not include associated costs such as procurement.
“It would be incorrect to disclose a total cost for the platform deck as the figures are not directly comparable. But we can say the total development costs for the new facilities are at the same level as we foresaw in the plan for development and operation,” he explained.
He said overall costs on the Valemon project have though risen by around Nkr2.6 billion compared with the original budget of Nkr19.6 billion, but that this was within the 20% margin allowed for in the development plan.
The cost increase is attributed by Statoil to necessary modifications to be carried out on the Heimdal platform, as well as compensation to the Huldra licence for taking over the latter field’s pipeline, the need for an additional injection well due to new regulations and modifications to newbuild rig West Elara.
The Heimdal platform is being modified to receive gas exports from Valemon, while the latter’s condensate will be exported via Kvitebjorn.
“Valemon will prolong the lifetime of Heimdal and therefore the possibility of the latter’s platform being able to handle gas from other discoveries in the area,” Bokn said.
“Also, by using the existing pipeline from Huldra to Heimdal, we are saving on investments in new infrastructure for Valemon.”
He said Samsung’s delivery on the project “has been in line with our expectations when we awarded the contract”.
“Valemon represents a new execution model and new form of co-operation between Samsung and Statoil. We have gained many learnings that we will take with us in our ongoing improvement work,” he said.
“The greatest challenges we have experienced have been related to time consumption and the number of hours used on commissioning of the basic engineering ahead of fabrication. These are challenges we observe in many projects.”
Statoil meanwhile has other major field fabrication projects under way in South Korea, with HHI building the topsides and hull of its Aasta Hansteen spar platform and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering taking on the topsides of its Mariner and Gina Krog platforms.