StatoilHydro Exec VP: Volve Field Signals a Fresh Approach

When executive vice president Tore Torvund officially opened the new Volve field last week, it marked the beginning of a new era on the Norwegian continental shelf. "We have to think afresh to maximise recovery and increase production," says Torvund.

"Against a background of high oil prices and diminishing production from mature fields, we must be willing to think afresh," said Torvund. "We have strategic focus on maximising returns from the Norwegian Continental Shelf, and we see a trend towards smaller and more marginal fields," he said.

Torvund, who is executive vice president for Exploration and Production Norway, held a presentation for Norwegian media at StatoilHydro's guest house at Solastranda in Stavanger on Friday morning, before flying out to the official opening on the platform Maersk Inspirer.

The Volve field represents an important contribution to production targets with its daily production of 56,000 barrels of oil per day. StatoilHydro's share of this production is 30,000 barrels per day.

"Although it's not typically StatoilHydro, Volve represents the diversity in the way we will be operating on the continental shelf according to varying challenges," explains Torvund.

Part of what's new at Volve is the way in which the entire operation has been assigned to Maersk Contractors Norway. Maersk have had responsibility for development, equipment and manning.

"It's as close as you can get to a total procurement and construction contract," said Torvund, while emphasising that StatoilHydro remain in charge of the geology and placement of wells. He praised Maersk Contractors Norway for their deliveries.

"We have achieved almost 100 percent regularity already, even during the startup phase. That is something that really impresses us," he said, and added that he was happy that Maersk too, were satisfied. "When you have two parties that are satisfied, you can call it a success," he said.

Torvund and managing director of Maersk Contractors Norway, Per Wulff, exchanged gifts and speeches in a ceremony in the control room on board the platform.

The development solution is based on the movable installation Maersk Inspirer, the world's largest jackup platform. The solution gives greater flexibility, mobility and lower costs than a conventional platform.

The platform was towed out from Haugesund in May last year, and production came on stream on February 12. The goal is to achieve plateau production in 2008. The first cargo of 500,000 barrels of oil is scheduled to be shipped in mid-March. In the meantime, the oil is stored in the floating storage unit, Navion Saga, a converted shuttle tanker.

The subcontracted model was chosen because of the field's relatively short lifespan, estimated to about five years and a recovery rate of 45 percent.

However, plans are already underway to extend the field's lifespan by exploring nearby resources in the project Volve Future Wells. Exploration and development are taking place in parallel at a fast tempo alongside drilling, startup and commissioning. Volve South and West will be investigated first using multilateral branches, after which Theta South will be explored. The Volve field was separated from the Sleipner field, and existing infrastructure is therefore close at hand.

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