Maersk Inspirer operates at the Volve oil field in the Norwegian North Sea. Image courtesy of Maersk.
The converted shuttle tanker Navion Saga serves as a floating storage unit for the oil extracted from the Volve field. Image courtesy of Statoil.
Part of the processing unit on Maersk Inspirer. Image courtesy of Statoil.
Officials in the control room of the Maersk Inspirer during the opening of the field in February 2008. Image courtesy of Statoil.
The Maersk Inspirer is the world's largest jack-up rig. Enhancements were made to the rig in 2012. Image courtesy of Statoil.

Volve oil field

Volve oil field is located in Block 15/9 in the southern part of the Norwegian North Sea, at a water depth of around 80m. It is situated approximately 200km west of Stavanger and 8km from Sleipner Ost field.

Statoil is the operator of the field with a stake of 59.6%. Other partners in the development include ExxonMobil E&P Norway with a stake of 30.40% and Bayerngas Norge with a stake of 10%.

Production of oil from the field started in February 2008.

Volve oil field discovery, geology and reserves

Oil was discovered at the Volve field in 1993. The field was formed by the collapse of adjacent salt ridges during the Jurassic period. The oil is located in the middle Jurassic hugin sandstone formations.

Recoverable reserves are estimated at 78.6 million barrels of oil and 1.5 billion cubic metres of gas, with a daily production of 56,000 barrels of oil a day. The drilling of well F11-A, completed in June, increased reserves at the oilfield by an additional 8.8 to 9.4 million barrels of oil.

The new well has also extended the life of the field by two years. The projected lifespan of the field now runs to 2016.

“Oil was discovered at the Volve field in 1993.”

Volve oil field development

Development of the Volve oil field commenced in 2006. The project involved drilling eight oil, gas and water injection wells. Water produced from the field is then reinjected into the formation in order to increase oil recovery.

Production is carried out by using the jack-up rig Maersk Inspirer. Gas and oil are then respectively conveyed to the Sleipner A platform and oil tanker Navion Saga before export, via flexible flowlines and risers. The oil tanker Navion Europa is also occasionally used to replace Navion Saga for oil-storage purposes.

“Production of oil from the field started in February 2008.”

Construction of Maersk Inspirer jack-up rig for the Volve field

The construction of Maersk Inspirer, the world’s largest jack-up drilling rig, was completed in 2004.

The rig was constructed in Korea, while the topside facilities were designed in Singapore and the modules constructed in Thailand. The modification and integration of the rig with the modules was carried out at Haugesund shipyards in Norway. The process module integrated into the rig is capable of producing 56,000 barrels of oil and 53 million cubic feet of gas a day.

The process module alone weighs around 3,500t and the wellhead module weighs 500t.

Enhancements were carried out on the drilling rig in 2012, involving 13,000 onshore man-hours and around 25,000 offshore installation hours.

Details of Maersk Inspirer jack-up rig

The ultra-harsh environment jack-up drilling rig is 88.8m long, 102.5m wide, 12m deep with a draught of 8m. Its legs measure around 205.3m. It has a deck space of 2,500m and a variable loading capacity of 10,000t. The vessel is designed for year-round operation at a water depth of 150m.

The jack-up rig is powered by four MAN-B&W Holeby 9L27/38 diesel generators. The equipment aboard the jack-up rig includes three Kenz EHC 100/3500 OS cranes, a cement pump, a Varco AHS-10Q draw works rated at 4,600hp, a Varco TDS-8SA top drive, three Wirth TPK 2200 mud pumps, and a Wirth TPK 800 mud pump.

Other equipment includes six Rigtech VSM 300 shale shakers, two 1,500 Burgees Magna vacuum degassers, two Hiller heavyjet centrifuges, and two Rigtech cascade desilters. It also features a Procon procut slurrification unit, a holding tank and a helicopter deck measuring 22.6m in diameter, suitable for Sikorsky S-61N helicopters.

Accommodation aboard Maersk Inspirer

The accommodation facilities are provided on two V-shaped blocks. The rig can accommodate 120 people in two-man rooms. Other facilities include 14 offices and three recreation rooms.

Contractors involved with the Volve oil field development

Three dynamic risers and four flowlines for the oil and gas export systems, including other ancillary equipment such as a mid water arch, anchor holdback structures, bend stiffeners, buoyancy modules and bend restrictors, were provided by NKT Flexibles.

The air-handling units for the platform were supplied by Flakt Woods. The fire fighting, rescue and safety equipment aboard the rig was supplied by Unisafe.

The engineering, procurement and construction contract for the enhancements to the drilling rig was awarded to Ramboll.

NRI Energy Technology

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