Production Possibilities at Goliat Field Raise Concern from NPD

How Goliat might be brought on stream ranks as one of the key issues facing people in Finnmark, Norway's northernmost county, at the moment.

Questions needing to be answered include whether a production ship or platform should be installed on the field, or whether the unprocessed wellstream should travel to a terminal on land. Italian oil company Eni, the operator, and fellow licensees StatoilHydro and Det Norske Oljeselskap (DNO) are due to submit a plan for development and operation (PDO) fairly soon. Piping the wellstream ashore or utilising surface installations will then be a crucial choice, decided ultimately by profitability assessments. Jobs are the prime local concern.

Goliat provides a good example of the way the NPD follows up licensees and production licenses on the Norwegian continental shelf. When a discovery is to be developed, the agency monitors the planning process from the start. It has set up its own Goliat team of geologists, reservoir engineers, technology specialists and economists. The NPD's job is to ensure that any development meets the requirements for good resource management and is rooted in concern for safety and the natural environment. A Goliat development is important for various reasons, not least its pioneering character in the Barents Sea and its impact on possible future projects in the region.

"It's accordingly important that any solution is assessed in a wider area context," explains principal engineer Leif Erik Abrahamsen, coordinator for the NPD's work on Goliat. "Another key issue is whether the field should be supplied with electricity from land. It's important that all necessary studies are completed before the final plans are laid."

Seven new exploration wells planned for the Barents Sea next year could affect the resource potential and provide guidance on how hydrocarbons in the area are best produced.

"The results must be available before a decision is taken," affirms Abrahamsen. "It's useless calling for studies once the process has ended. Our job as the regulator is to monitor that process and to call for answers to the challenges which come up along the way."

He emphasizes that the NPD's primary duty is to ensure good resource management and the largest possible value for the community.