Heimdal operatorship transfer should usher in further gas developments

The control column from Elf Norge's North-East Frigg Field has found a new life as a quay. [20,870 bytes] A new deal on Heimdal which Elf Petroleum Norge is negotiating with Norsk Hydro forms part of the process of adapting the French company's role in Norway to new circumstances. One of the founder members of Norway's offshore club - its activities in the country date back to 1965 - Elf, faces a situation in which its major operated fields - Frigg and Heimdal - are in terminal

A new deal on Heimdal which Elf Petroleum Norge is negotiating with Norsk Hydro forms part of the process of adapting the French company's role in Norway to new circumstances. One of the founder members of Norway's offshore club - its activities in the country date back to 1965 - Elf, faces a situation in which its major operated fields - Frigg and Heimdal - are in terminal decline.

However, the facilities on both fields constitute infrastructure with considerable future worth. Elf is taking action on Heimdal first as it has only about two more years of production, says information manager Wenche Aanerud. Frigg is expected to go on producing until at least 2002.

The Heimdal deal, which is due to be concluded by September, involves transferring the operatorship and part of Elf's interest to Hydro, which has a number of potential tie-back developments in the area. Currently Elf owns 21.514% and Hydro 6.228%.

The two companies know each other well, Hydro also being a partner on Frigg and Elf a partner on Hydro's Oseberg, Brage, Visund and Troll Oil fields.

The Heimdal platform in block 25/4 is an attractive proposition in itself, being only 11 years old and equipped with drilling, production and accommodation facilities. It is also one of the starting points of the Statpipe trunkline, through which Norwegian gas is delivered to Germany via the Norpipe system. In addition a condensate pipeline runs to the Brae Field in the UK sector, and thence to Cruden Bay on the Scottish mainland.

It makes sense for Hydro to become the Heimdal operator as it has a number of projects which could use the field's facilities, says Aanerud. One of these is the new gas export pipeline from Oseberg, which may link into the Statpipe at the Heimdal platform. Alternatively it may be tied directly into Statpipe on the seabed in the vicinity of the platform.

Hydro is also planning to drill up prospects on a new license covering parts of blocks 24/6, 25/4 and 25/7, to the west and south of Heimdal. To the east in 25/5 are two Elf finds, Byggve and Skirne, which are uneconomic to develop on their own.

A third-party tie-back possibility has emerged in the shape of Statoil's Huldra field in 30/2, which has been granted a gas export allocation starting in 1999 or 2000. Statoil's Kvitebjoern is another potential user, though it has yet to gain a gas export allocation.

In the longer term Elf will also be looking to build a common strategy with Hydro for the Frigg Field facilities, Aanerud says. Here Elf Norge owns 16.068% and Hydro 19.992% of the unitized field interest. In 1996 the field and its satellites produced 1.9 bcm.

Two of the field's satellites - Lille Frigg and Froey - have disappointed early expectations, and both have had their reserves estimates reduced. A third satellite, North-East Frigg, ceased production in 1993. The control column has been brought to land, where the cabin is now used as a training center and the column has been incorporated into a quay. The subsea template is due to be removed this summer.

Gas from Frigg and its satellites is exported to the UK through twin pipelines to St Fergus. In 1996 throughput totaled a mere 1.7 bcm. This year sees the implementation of a one-year deal to deliver Froey gas to Bord Gas Eireann in Ireland via the Frigg system and the UK grid..

There was good news for the future of the Frigg system with the recent announcement that the deadlock in the renegotiation of the Frigg transport treaty between the Norwegian and UK governments had been broken. This opens the way to extending the use of the pipelines to carry gas from third-party fields to the UK. One of the first new deals expected to be implemented is that negotiated several years ago by National Power and kept on ice since then.

Elf's exploratory prospects have been brightened by the award of an operatorship in the Barents. It has the license for Area B in the Bjoernoya South/Troms 1 region with a 30% interest, and is partnered by Mobil, Phillips and the Norwegian state. It is also a 10% partner on the Area A license, which is operated by Norsk Hydro.

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