(Click to Enlarge)
The Ekofisk H-7 gas compressor platform has been permanently shut down and de-manned following thorough planning and preparations.
From 1977 to 1999, the platform, which is located in the German sector of the North Sea, contributed to maintaining pressure in the pipeline which transports gas from the Ekofisk Center to the Emden terminal in Germany. The compressors were taken off-line eight years ago, and since then, the only role of H-7 has been for pigging the pipeline. Gassco is operator of the platform and the pipeline, with ConocoPhillips as technical service provider.
As part of this summer's major maintenance shutdown at Ekofisk, the gas pipeline was disconnected from the platform and new pipe coils were laid on the seabed in a loop bypassing H-7. Work then continued apace for installation and hook-up of new safety equipment including lights, fog horns and radar warning beacons which will operate until the platform is removed in a few years time.
Because the electrical supply to the platform has been switched off, a large battery bank was installed to provide power for the safety equipment. The battery bank is charged by solar panels and wind generators. As the platform is located in an area of heavy shipping traffic, it is important to have a reliable electrical supply for equipment like surveillance cameras, navigation lights and fog horns.
The cessation project was led by Erling Ballestad with offshore installation managers Espen Aamodt, Hans Ribe and Alf Almås. 'It took time to get the shutdown and de-manning plans approved, but after this the work progressed as planned,' says a satisfied Erling. The platform shutdown makes a valuable contribution to the reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
ConocoPhillips personnel and contractors have both contributed to the shutdown work, by disposing of old equipment and installing new systems. One comprehensive task was emptying out and cleaning all the piping systems and hydrocarbon tanks. The German authorities set very stringent environmental requirements and representatives have been onboard H-7 several times to follow up on the work.
H-7 boasts an impressive safety record, and it is more than seven years since the last personal injury. 'The crew on board were very conscientious. There was also a good working environment on the platform where everyone took good care of each other in the best personal safety involvement (PSI) spirit,' says offshore installation manager Alf Almas.
It was undoubtedly sad for some to leave H-7 for the last time. The platform has been the main place of work for several of the regular crew for many years. Mechanic Ralph Larsen has worked on the platform since start-up 30 years ago. Now he trades a workplace on the German continental shelf for one on the Norwegian continental shelf at the Ekofisk Center.