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Powering Johan Sverdrup from shore

Johan Sverdrup lies on the Utsira High in the Norwegian North Sea, about 150 kilometres west of Karmøy. Even that far from land, cables have been installed in 2018 and 2022 to transmit power from shore. Several factors contributed to this decision.
By Gunleiv Hadland, Norwegian Petroleum Museum
- The purple cable in this artist’s impression carries power from shore to the first construction phase on Johan Sverdrup, installed in 2018. The yellow cable does the same for the second phase and for the area solution on the Utsira High from 2022. Kårstø and Haugsneset, where the cables come ashore, are shown in the background. Illustration: Equinor

The first four platforms on this field were completed in 2019, while the fifth will be on stream in 2022.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Equinor website, Johan Sverdrup,, accessed 19 November 2021. All are equipped to receive electricity from a facility outside Kårstø north of Stavanger via two parallel transmission cables, each about 200 kilometres long. The alternative to this solution would have been a generating plant fuelled by gas or diesel oil on one of the platforms – with substantial CO2 emissions.

Power from shore was costed in 2018 at about NOK 14 billion.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Proposition no 41 (2018-2019) to the Storting, Utbygging og drift av Johan Sverdrup-feltets andre byggetrinn og anlegg og drift av områdeløsningen for kraft fra land til feltene Johan Sverdrup, Edvard Grieg, Ivar Aasen og Gina Krog: 28. So why was such a large and expensive project was approved and executed?

Arguments for and against

To find the answer, we need to go right back to the 1980s. That was when the Norwegian government became seriously aware of the undesirable effects of excessive emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) like CO2. The Kyoto protocol of 1997 brought Norway into an international collaboration aimed at stabilising the amount of GHGs released.

One measure already introduced by then was the country’s CO2 tax, applied from 1991 to petroleum operations on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS). That made it more expensive for the oil companies to power their platforms with old and inefficient gas-fired units, which released a lot of CO2. Despite this financial disincentive, however, emissions from the oil and gas sector rose by 77.3 per cent from 1990 to 2012.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Statistics Norway, 30 January, 2014, Utslipp til luft, 1990-2012,

Curbing that increase called for action to cut GHG emissions offshore. One possible option was to scrap gas-fired generating systems and supply platforms with clean hydropower, which accounts for more than 90 per cent of Norway’s electricity supply.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Energifakta Norge Kraftproduksjon,, accessed 1 July 2022. Various concepts for transmitting power from shore have therefore been debated since the 1990s.

The Norwegian government began ordering oil companies to consider this solution in connection with new field developments or major modification projects as far back as 1996.

“Power from shore twice as expensive”. Facsimile: Rogalands Avis, Monday 30 May 2011

A common argument against supplying electricity from land is its high installation cost, particularly on existing facilities. That has been confirmed by a number of reports and studies from government agencies and environmental organisations. as well as by oil companies. The investment can nevertheless be justified if the field concerned has a long producing life and if several fields can be coordinated for such supply.

Another drawback is that a power cut on land might leave platforms without electricity.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Gas-fired generating capacity must therefore be provided as a reserve. A further objection to power from shore is that any gas not burnt offshore is nevertheless sold for consumption and will cause GHG emissions elsewhere.

An argument with particular relevance in 2022, when Europe faces an energy crisis, is that installing power from shore on a number of platforms would increase electricity consumption in Norway. In years with low precipitation, and therefore less water to drive the turbines, that could help create a supply shortfall and higher power prices.

Despite these caveats, a number of NCS fields are being supplied with power from shore by 2022 – accounting for just under 10 per cent of overall Norwegian electricity consumption.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Statnett, 2019, Et elektrisk Norge – fra fossilt til strøm,–fra-fossilt-til-strom.pdf.

Troll and Valhall first

The first NCS facility to receive power from shore was Troll A, one of three platforms on this field. Since it came on stream in 1996, this gas production installation has obtained all its electricity from Kollsnes outside Bergen.

A key reason why such a solution was chosen as early as 1990 was Troll A’s relative proximity to land – a mere 69 kilometres. Another important consideration was a desire to reduce the weight and volume of topside equipment. The B and C platforms for oil production are not currently powered from shore, but plans exist to electrify these as well.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Equinor, website, 23 April 2021, Utbyggingsplaner for elektrifisering av Troll Vest overleveres myndighetene,

In 2013, Valhall became the first full field on the NCS to operate exclusively on electricity supplied by cable from land. This pioneering project has attracted much attention. A new PH platform was installed in 2011, and the power-from-shore system was officially delivered to Valhall’s operations organisation on 30 January 2012. Valhall PH came on stream in January 2013.

A number of other platforms have become powered from shore since then, and several more are planned. See the table.[REMOVE]Fotnote: The main source here is the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate’s report, Kraft fra land til norsk sokkel,—felt-og-innretninger-med-kraft-fra-land/.

Utsira High

Power from shore was also stipulated by a special resolution of the Storting in June 2014 for Johan Sverdrup and several other fields on the Utsira High – Edvard Grieg, Gina Krog and Ivar Aasen.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Proceedings of the Storting, 12 June 2014, The main justification was that this would reduce GHG emissions since clean hydropower accounts for most Norwegian electricity output.

Animation of electrification on the Utsira High. Photo: Equinor

The Storting’s decision was taken about a year before the plan for development and operation (PDO) of Johan Sverdrup was approved in June 2015.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Proceedings of the Storting, 18 June 2015, Phase two of the project was approved by special resolution in April 2019.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Proposition no 41 (2018-2019), op.cit, considered by the Storting on 29 April 2019. These decisions were taken after discussing both costs and electricity consumption. A drawback with transmission over long distances is the power losses incurred. To reduce these, direct (DC) rather than alternating (AC) current is used in long submarine cables.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, 2020, “Teknologi for kraft fra land”, Kraft fra land til norsk sokkel,—teknologi-for-kraft-fra-land/.

Power from shore has subsequently been approved for the Sleipner and Gudrun fields.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Equinor website, 11 February 2021, Partial electrification of Sleipner approved,

The increase in Norwegian electricity prices immediately after the North Sea Link interconnector cable with the UK became operational in October 2021 added fuel to the debate on and opposition to powering offshore installations from land.

Electricity prices in southern Norway have multiplied several times over during 2022, reflecting not only power exports but also low precipitation and thereby reduced hydropower supplies. Demand for Norwegian energy has risen because of the European crisis unleashed by the Russia-Ukraine war. Norway is simultaneously in the midst of a “green shift”, with a big move to electric cars to cut CO2 emissions and with ships and aircraft also due to be electrified. All in all, electricity has thereby become more expensive. Developing wind power on land and offshore to generate even more clean energy is controversial because of its interference with nature.

Electrification of the NCS is one of the components in the discussion about what clean energy should be used for in Norway. The arguments for and against power from shore remain valid. It will be up to Norwegian politicians to weigh up these issues and take future decisions.

One alternative to power from shore is offshore wind farms. The licensees on Gullfaks and Snorre resolved in 2019 that these fields should be partly supplied with floating wind power, and the Hywind Tampen farm is now under development for completion in 2022.

Table 1: NCS platforms with power from shore

Platform(s) Year Cable (km) MW AC/DC Comments
Troll A 1996/



69 100/2 x 41/5 x 50 AC/HVDC Cables from Kollsnes. All power from shore, several compressors
Ormen Lange 2007 123 Subsea
Gjøa 2010 98.5 40 AC Cable from Mongstad. One gas turbine
Vega 2010 30 Cable from Gjøa
Valhall 2013 292 78 HVDC Cable from Lista. All power from shore
Goliat 2016 100 75 AC Cable from Hyggevatn outside Hammerfest. One gas turbine
Martin Linge 2018 163 65 AC World’s longest AC submarine cable
Johan Sverdrup 2018 and 2022 200 100/


HVDC Two cables from Haugsneset near Kårstø
Valhall West Flank 2019 Cable from Valhall PH
Hod B 2022 13 Cable from Valhall PH
Edvard Grieg 2022 20 60 AC Cable from Sverdrup P2
Ivar Aasen 2022 10 30 AC Cable from Edvard Grieg
Gina Krog 2022 62 25 AC Cable from Sverdrup P2. One gas turbine
Sleipner (with Utgard, Gungne and Sigyn) 2022 28 AC Cable from Gina Krog. Supplemented by gas turbines
Gudrun 2022 (2014) 55 Cable from Sleipner A
Draugen 2025 150 80 Cable from Straum transformer station in Åfjord local authority
Njord 2025 30 Cable from Draugen
Oseberg field centre and Oseberg South[REMOVE]Fotnote: 2026 132 105 Partial power from shore. Cable from Kollsnes[REMOVE]Fotnote:
Troll B 2026 85 Partial power from shore. Cable from Kollsnes
Troll C 2026 20 All power from shore. Cable from Troll B
Wisting[REMOVE]Fotnote: 2027 / 28 340 km 80 HVDC Cable from Hyggevatn outside Hammerfest


Lorentsen, Kristoffer, Ordering Power from Shore. An STS analysis of electrification of the Norwegian Continental Shelf,

Nur, Philip Isaac Rudolfsen, 2017, Kraftkampen. En casestudie av elektrifiseringen av Utsirahøyden, master’s thesis, department of political science, University of Oslo.

Motion from representatives Listhaug, Saudland and Halleland: “Stortinget ber regjeringen stoppe videre elektrifisering av norsk sokkel med strøm fra land”.



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