The first central North Sea platform to be built at a single construction yard in the UK for at least 25 years has been completed by British manufacturer OGN on Tyneside. The final part of the fabrication, the topside (deck), will be towed down the Tyne to the North Sea Forties Field, 110 miles off Aberdeen. It is part of a £400 million construction project for US oil and gas exploration and production company, Apache Corporation.
First oil from the new Forties Alpha Satellite Platform (FASP) is expected to come on stream in the autumn of this year and has the capacity to produce up to 25,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd). Decommissioning of the Forties Field had been due to commence in 2013 but the life of the field has been extended by another 20 years.
The contract for the design and build of the platform was awarded to OGN in 2010 and the project, from concept to completion, has required over 3 million man hours of work, providing 2,000 jobs at OGN’s Hadrian Yard at Wallsend and a further estimated 5,000 jobs throughout the British supply chain. The completion of FASP also marks the 10th anniversary of Apache’s acquisition of the iconic Forties Field from BP. It was the first of the UK’s large oil fields, discovered in 1970 and officially inaugurated by The Queen in 1975.
However, this British manufacturing success story is coupled with a caution from the UK oil and gas fabrication sector which is increasingly losing business to South Korea and the Middle East. OGN estimates that, over the past three years, major contracts for UK Continental Shelf oil and gas activity to the value of more than £10 billion have been awarded outside the UK, equating to over 10,000 jobs.
The perception that the UK no longer has the capacity and skills to take on projects of this size and scale has been comprehensively disproved by OGN which was established only four years ago when it acquired Hadrian Yard and invested £25 million in the region.
Energy Minister Michael Fallon said:
“OGN has constructed one of the largest oil platforms ever built on the Tyne in record time, proving without doubt that UK fabricators can compete with the world’s best. Apache should be praised for buying British, providing some 2,000 jobs in Tyneside and a further 5,000 jobs in the supply chain, helping to re-energise an industry with a great tradition in the North East. Importantly it is an illustration to other North Sea producers that the UK offers excellent quality and value.
“This platform, part of a £400 million project for the Forties field, is at the leading edge of a renaissance in the North Sea oil and gas industry. The Government is working hard with producers and British business to ensure the UK fully benefits from this resurgence in investment.”
Commenting on the completion of the Forties Alpha Satellite Platform, Dennis Clark, Chairman of OGN Group, said: “This is a great testimony to the manufacturing capabilities and skills of the oil and gas supply chain in the North East and to Apache’s commitment to building locally within the UK. It also shows that the North East region’s track record of engineering and fabrication could have a bright future at the heart of a thriving offshore energy sector. I congratulate our workforce on a truly excellent job which speaks volumes for their talents and commitment.”
Apache North Sea’s Managing Director, Jim House, added: “We are looking forward to taking delivery of one of the largest oil platforms ever built on the Tyne. We have worked successfully in partnership with OGN over the past three years and our confidence in them and with the UK supply chain has established an excellent example. The installation of the Forties Alpha Satellite Platform represents a major milestone for Apache’s significant investment programme. I’m especially proud that Apache is installing this new platform at the same time production from Forties was originally scheduled to scale down. Production in the Forties Field is currently running at an average of 57,000 bpd (barrels per day) of oil, five times higher than the outlook of 10 years ago.”