Technology and the environment
Technology development in Statoil
Statoil/Equinor has always had a reputation for being far advanced in developing and applying new technology. How has it earned that status? This article takes a closer look at the steps taken by the company in maturing advanced technical solutions for processing and transporting petroleum.
Ambition for a “moon landing”
Lofty visions are a traditional component of the New Year address given by Norway’s prime ministers, an annual ritual which seldom makes a mark on people’s long-term memories. But the speech on 1 January 2007 proved an exception – not least for Statoil.
Unrewarding power-from-gas efforts
Processing oil and gas from the Norwegian continental shelf at home, rather than simply exporting it, has been a political ambition in Norway since the 10 “oil commandments” were specified as policy goals in the early 1970s. Natural gas landed by pipeline could be used to generate electricity, for example – as in other countries. Before any gas-fired power stations could be built, however, their profitability compared with abundant Norwegian hydropower had to be clarified. Another question which gradually acquired greater weight was the impact on Norway’s climate accounts.
Heatwaves, droughts, fires, extreme rainfall, floods and landslides – the challenges presented by the gradual warming of the planet are becoming ever clearer. The climate issue has also acquired growing importance in Equinor’s strategy work, as manifested in 2018 through the companies first climate roadmap. What did this have to say about the measures Equinor will pursue to become a climate-neutral company by 2050?
Kristin – high pressure and temperature
The Kristin gas/condensate field lies in the Norwegian Sea, 16 kilometres south-west of Åsgard. On stream since 2005, it is operated by Equinor. A reservoir almost 5 000 metres beneath the seabed and characterised by particularly high pressure and temperature (HPHT) has presented a number of technological challenges.
World-record well on Troll
Norway’s Troll field holds several records. Not only is Troll A the world’s tallest moveable structure, but well S-23 also set a new world record when it came on stream in 2021. At 10 042 metres, it was the longest oil well ever drilled from a floater.
Gas to food – bioprotein at Tjeldbergodden
Could part of the solution to global food shortages lie in gas from Heidrun and a bioprotein plant in western Norway? Worth a try, Statoil believed.
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.
Sustainability and wind power
“Sustainability is at the core of everything we do”, proclaimed the opening view of Equinor’s website in the spring of 2022. This slogan is visualised by a seascape with wind turbines beside an offshore platform. This way of communicating is relatively new for the company. How and why did it shift from fossil energy alone to becoming a renewable producer as well, with “the wind in its sails”?
Troll on land
Seven years after the 1979 discovery of Troll, operator Norske Shell submitted plans for developing and operating this giant discovery. In the wings, however, Statoil worked on alternative proposals which would be cheaper, better and cause lower emissions. But it required shrewdness, technology and persuasion to reach the point described by CEO Harald Norvik as one of his proudest moments.
From telex to Teams
Formidable progress has been made in office technology by Statoil/Equinor since the company was founded in 1972. Typewriters, fixed phones, dictaphones, telex and telefax have been replaced by supercomputers, PCs, iPads, mobiles and apps. This has been achieved step by step through campaigns for new ways of working.
Hazardous fires at onshore plants
The quality of maintenance work at Equinor was called into question in 2020 following fires at Melkøya and Tjeldbergodden. Did management assign the same importance to necessary maintenance as it did to cost cuts? Sharp criticism was levelled by the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) after investigating these incidents.
In the driving seat for subsea compression
A big commitment to underwater technology was made in Norway during the early 2000s. Government, oil companies and suppliers collaborated closely and spent heavily on development projects in a collective effort. Statoil was among the companies most heavily involved, with its “underwater factory 2020” vision as the goal. This work included two big compression facilities placed on the seabed.
The vision of an “underwater factory” was launched by Statoil in 2012. It believed moving process facilities from platform to seabed could be profitable, given the experience gained on Tordis with new technology developed to remove water and sand from the wellstream as early as possible in the process.
Wind energy supplements gas-fired power on Tampen
The Hywind Tampen project on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS) ranks as the world’s first floating wind farm to deliver power to offshore petroleum platforms. Due to begin generating in 2022, this pilot is also unique because it marks the first time since Troll A was completed in 1995 that concrete supports are being cast in Norway for installation offshore.
Potential for offshore wind power in Japan
As an advanced society with a big demand for energy, Japan stood out at an early stage as a market for offshore wind power. That has since been reinforced by the country’s ambition to increase its renewables output. Equinor opened an office in Tokyo in 2018 with the aim of entering this market.
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Singapore – looking east
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