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The 9,000-ton jacket for Det norske’s Ivar Aasen field is 138 m tall and was built by Saipem at its Arbatax facility in Sardinia.

Oil & Gas

Birth of a Norwegian giant

In 2008, Det norske discovered hydrocarbons in the Ivar Aasen field some 180 kilometers off the Norwegian coast. When the plan for development and operation was approved by the Norwegian parliament in May 2013, the company immediately started preparing to build an offshore platform to exploit the field – an important milestone in the company’s history. Through Ivar Aasen and with a comprehensive and advanced technology package from Siemens, Det norske will become a leading oil producer on the Norwegian shelf.

Named after the famous Norwegian poet Ivar Aasen, the field is Det norske’s first major development project as an operator. The project comprises resources in several fields and includes two neighboring deposits: West Cable and Hanz. The field’s lifetime is expected to be 20 years, and, at present, reserves are estimated to be 200 billion barrels of oil equivalents. With Statoil, Bayerngas, Wintershall, VNG, Lundin, and OMV as partners, Det norske will invest 27 billion Norwegian kroner to ensure a good and safe development of the field. “Ivar Aasen makes us a significant player in the oil and gas industry on the Norwegian shelf,” says Geir Westre Hjelmeland, vice president of the Ivar Aasen asset for Det norske. “That is why we have carefully selected partners for this project, as close cooperation and alignment are critical to secure a project that delivers on HSE standards, quality, schedule, and cost.”

An integrated solution for integrated operation

One major package comes from Oslo and Trondheim in Norway, where a team of dedicated oil and gas specialists from Siemens has worked hard over the past two years to create the foundation for integrated operation at the Ivar Aasen project. Specifically, the team had to present a solution for networking the onshore control room at Det norske’s headquarters in Trondheim with the offshore control system, plus supplying a data acquisition and visualization system for operations management based on XHQ.

For Det norske, integrated operation is key to meeting production goals and facilitating an efficient work process, both offshore and onshore. For this purpose, the company has two mirroring control rooms, one located offshore on the Ivar Aasen platform and the other onshore in Trondheim. The question, says Hjelmeland, who is also part of the project leadership team for the Ivar Aasen development, is how to best utilize available resources to ensure safe and efficient offshore operations. That includes support for maintenance scheduling and planning; the ability to effectively hand over tasks between the onshore and offshore teams; and support for daily offshore operations through analysis, studies, and good planning. With Simatic PCS 7 and XHQ, Siemens was able to provide the right solution for this integration of teams, data, and expertise. Siemens also offered the best overall package for the entire electrical, instrumentation, control, and telecommunications (EICT) package, for which Det norske wanted to contract as few suppliers as possible. All the systems for electrification, process automation, and operations management had to be delivered as one project. But technology alone was not everything, as Hjelmeland explains: “We saw that in addition to offering proven and reliable technology, Siemens also had the right spirit to bring to the project – we wanted a team that would support the hands-on approach that we had chosen for the project, that would be proactive and work as a joint team with all the other partners to find the best solution. And Siemens was able to live up to this expectation.”

Comprehensive scope

The EICT package comprised an integrated control and safety system based on the Simatic PCS 7 process control system with dedicated oil and gas libraries, field instruments, systems for electrical distribution, and telecommunications. Det norske specified that the engineers for the EICT package should work as an integrated team along with the OEM and general engineering company to create a solution that would provide the maximum benefits both during project execution and in the operational phase.

The switchgear systems for Ivar Aasen were built in Siemens’ own factory in Trondheim and shipped to the yard in Singapore for installation in the platform modules after extensive quality checks.

With such a large package, Siemens has also assumed responsibility for a large part of the overall project success, states Magnus Wessel-Aas, who led the Siemens Ivar Aasen EICT project. This reflects a larger industry trend of shifting more risk onto suppliers by choosing single vendors. Hjelmeland agrees: “Different project set-ups each have their benefits and challenges. By splitting such a large project into multiple packages, you create many interfaces that you have to monitor and manage. For Ivar Aasen, we assessed this and chose a solution supporting aligned teams and integrated operation – and that is basically what is reflected in the EICT systems.”

Global team approach

Following receipt of the official order in March 2013, Siemens set up a global team of experts to optimize collaboration with the various project partners. Project management, administration, and technical lead engineers for the EICT project execution were based in Oslo, where Siemens has a strong and dedicated team of offshore oil and gas experts. The Oslo team was responsible for the engineering and procurement activities for all disciplines. The detail engineering for the HMI systems was supported by the Siemens Center of Competence in Mumbai, India. A dedicated team of EICT engineers based in London supported the engineering company Mustang in the basic design. Field instrumentation was provided through the Siemens organization in Karlsruhe. Siemens was also responsible for the delivery and standardization of all low-voltage motors for SMOE and the package vendors.

The field will be developed via the manned platform Ivar Aasen; the West Cable deposit will be connected by a well and the Hanz deposit tied in later via subsea installation.

The engineering phase was completed in late 2014. Through 2016, Siemens will continue to support operations both on- and offshore through a dedicated Integrated Operation Competence Center in Trondheim. To maintain and develop knowledge over the entire project and to streamline coordination and execution, key staff members have been retained throughout, supporting all project phases. Moreover, Det norske will use XHQ as a central maintenance portal to collect all relevant data from the entire plant, optimize maintenance, and take advantage of advanced condition and asset performance monitoring.

Early involvement key to success

Being able to work in such a multinational, multidisciplinary set-up is essential in large offshore projects. One important decision that proved very beneficial was the early involvement of Siemens in the engineering phase. The EICT package design links the plant and process design and the commissioning phase. By integrating the engineering of the design and layout at the basic design stage, it was easier to identify the critical items and solutions very early in the project in order to secure a robust design and avoid late changes, thus saving time and improving quality in later project phases. This approach also created additional savings through better interface coordination and standardization. All the units, modules, and systems on Ivar Aasen were standardized as far as possible to reduce spare parts requirements and maintenance expenses over the platform lifecycle.

On track for first oil

In mid-2015, the jacket for the new platform was shipped from the yard in Sardinia and installed on the seafloor above the Ivar Aasen field. At the same time, Siemens delivered the systems for the EICT package to the yard in Singapore, where they will be installed on the platform modules. The onshore control room at the Det norske headquarters was set up. The next big milestone is scheduled for 2016, when the platform topside will travel by sea from Singapore to the North Sea for installation and commissioning. After that, in late 2016, Det norske will be ready for “first oil” – as the next big step toward becoming a leader in oil and gas production on the Norwegian shelf. Although the project is not yet complete, Hjelmeland is pleased with the progress so far: “When you work with so many teams and partners, trust is very important. You have to understand each other’s motivation to create the best possible solution, and you have to work together as an integrated team. And I have to say that with Siemens, we have a partner that is very like-minded in that respect: they take a very proactive approach to the project and have proven to be a reliable partner – which is just what we are looking for.”

Integrated operation

The concept of integrated operation, often also called the Digital Oil Field, is a combination of IT, automation, and instrumentation to improve the existing technologies in the oil and gas industry. It aims at faster and easier data analysis through efficient data management, providing a more realistic image of the reservoir and the availability of resources, helping to optimize the production process, and rendering operations safer through remote surveillance and collaborative environments.

Picture credits: Det norske