The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) has commissioned a new study on the benefits and disadvantages of unmanned wellhead platforms.

The study will be carried out by Rambøll Oil & Gas, and is aimed at gathering further information about the different types of wellhead platforms.

It would be submitted to the Norwegian authorities towards the end of December.

NPD said in connection with development decisions, unmanned wellhead platforms will have to be considered as an alternative to subsea tie-back more often.

"It is just as functional and robust as a subsea development."

NPD principal engineer Niels Erik Hald said: "The main argument in favour of unmanned wellhead platforms as a concept, is that this could be an efficient development solution in terms of both cost and production.

"In fact, it is just as functional and robust as a subsea development, and it is also more accessible for inspection and maintenance."

An unmanned wellhead facility has a fixed substructure installed on the seabed and consists of dry wellheads that are positioned on the platform deck.

Unmanned wellhead platforms are of various types and range from simple facilities to improved solutions including process equipment.

Image: The unmanned wellhead platform Tambar (BP) in the North Sea. Photo: courtesy of BP.