Ithaca secures access to Norpipe pipeline for Stella

Ithaca Energy has secured access to the Norpipe oil pipeline system allowing oil exports from the Greater Stella Area (GSA) development, in the UK North Sea, to transfer from tanker export to pipeline export during 2017. 

Following Petrofac’s progress report on Tuesday regarding the sail-away of the FPF1 production platform meant for the GSA, Ithaca Energy, the operator of the development, has confirmed the platform will sail-away by the end of June or in early July.

In addition, Ithaca said on Wednesday that securing the Norpipe pipeline system will significantly reduce the fixed operating costs of the GSA facilities and enhance operational uptime, resulting in improved reserves recovery and increasing the long term value of the GSA as a production hub.

The key work associated with creating a connection to the system has been executed as part of a fast-track operational program undertaken during the planned 2016 pipeline maintenance shutdown. Acceleration of this work was made possible as a result of a conventional tie-in point on the system being vacated by a third-party field disconnecting from the pipeline, the company noted.

Norpipe runs approximately 350 kilometers from the Ekofisk offshore production facilities on the Norwegian Continental Shelf to a dedicated oil processing facility at Teesside in the UK, with various UK fields exporting into the system via a spurline.

In addition, the company said it has taken advantage of the downturn in industry activity to secure contracting terms, including a lump sum contract for the installation of the 44 kilometer pipeline required from the FPF-1 to the Norpipe system.

The net capital expenditure associated with the work program is approximately $20 million, with the majority being paid in 2017.

Furthermore, Ithaca said, the FPF-1 modifications program, which is being completed by Petrofac in the Remontowa shipyard in Poland is in the final stages of completion, with only a limited number of commissioning activities requiring close out prior to sail-away.

Commissioning operations on the FPF-1 have continued to progress well over recent weeks and are now materially complete. The operations team have been living on the vessel since May, the marine works have been finished and the engineering teams are in the process of closing out handover of the various processing and utilities systems to the operations team. The planned vessel inclination test remains to be performed, following which the FPF-1 will be moved to a location off the coast of Gdansk for the final marine system trials prior to being towed to the field.

It is anticipated that the period from sail-away to first hydrocarbons will be approximately three months. Following towing of the FPF-1 to the field, the vessel will be moored on location using twelve pre-installed anchor chains. The dynamic risers and umbilicals that connect the subsea infrastructure to the vessel will then be installed.

Thereafter, commissioning of the various processing and utility systems requiring hydrocarbons from the field will be completed. First production from the Stella field is anticipated in late September 2016.


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