Wintershall has informed that the unmanned mini-platform L6-B has started to produce natural gas off the Dutch North Sea coast.
The first so called “Minimum Facility” platform was built in just nine months and brought to its offshore location in June 2014.
According to Wintershall, the advantage of this new generation of platforms is that they can be deployed in particularly shallow waters and can economically produce even from very small natural gas fields. Furthermore, they can cut down on costs thanks to the short time needed for construction and the simple installation. The company notes that the costs for such a platform are less than half of a conventional satellite platform.
The platform is located in field L6-B in the middle of a restricted military zone, and Wintershall Noordzee is the first company that is allowed to operate in this area. The installation needs to be as small as possible, and it may well be the smallest topside known.
The facility is anchored in the seabed through suction piles, rises about 18 meters above the sea and has three decks but no helideck. The facility can accommodate maximum 2 producing wells. Since there is only minimum processing equipment on the platform, the expected visit frequency is low, Wintershall said.
The substructure weighs 1,100 tons, the top side just around 100 tons. To compare, the closeby platform L8-P4 weighs 4,500 tons. From there the mini-platform is controlled, operated and supplied with electricity. A pipeline will transport the gas produced in L6-B to the neighbouring platform L8-P4.