Excellent results at Gullfaks

Delivered ahead of schedule, at the agreed cost and quality. Gullfaks B will go down in history as a very successful drilling upgrade project.

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From left: Erling Waage, Construction Manager, Frode Johan Saltvedt, Project Manager and Kjetil Thorsen, Engineering Manager. Photo: Øyvind Sætre/Aibel.

“In Statoil’s view, this is an excellent delivery. Gullfaks B Drilling Upgrade belongs to a category of projects that have previously proved to be challenging for both supplier and customer. Here we have succeeded as a joint effort and reached the finishing line at the agreed time, price and quality,” says the head of Statoil’s drilling upgrade projects, Peter H. Kupka.

Aibel's Project Manager Frode Johan Saltvedt has every reason to smile. The feedback from Statoil leaves no doubt that the Haugesund-based project has been successful.

“All parties involved in the project, from the onshore organisation to the installation team offshore and our partner RDS, have done a magnificent job," says Saltvedt, full of praise.

Great dimensions

Since the project was awarded in autumn 2012, Aibel has put in about 800 000 hours. It is Aibel’s biggest drilling upgrade project to date. The summer of 2014 saw the start of the main offshore work. Work has comprised removal of existing equipment, handling temporary equipment and new installations. In total, more than 880 tons of equipment and materials have been handled, and 65 kilometres of old cables have been removed and replaced with 71 kilometres of new ones.

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The installation team is picking up a drill pipe with an Eagle Arm crane. Photo: Aibel.

“Safety has been a top priority throughout the project. The offshore installation team has done a brilliant job in reporting observations, and this has helped to make the work even safer and better. We actually received more than twice as many observations as we were aiming for,” says Erling Waage, Construction Manager.

“As we see it, HSE is not a time thief, but rather a means to ensure good progress. By constantly working to be better, we make sure the job gets done as well as possible and - most importantly - that everyone comes home in as good shape as when they left,” adds the project manager.

Success factors

There are many reasons why the project has had good results. At the top of the list for the project management team are the good cooperation between the various actors involved and the hard work of the employees.

“Statoil, Aibel and our partner RDS have always had the same goal. So we’ve been able to find good solutions that satisfied everyone’s interests,” says Engineering Manager Kjetil Thorsen.

Project Manager Saltvedt also mentions focusing on the plan as an important success factor.

"As the project has developed, we’ve constantly been adjusting our plans to ensure optimal implementation,” he says.

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The onshore team gathered for a meeting in Aibel's office in Haugesund. Photo: Øyvind Sætre.

Apart from delivery in accordance with the order, talks with Statoil resulted in making cost-saving measures a further important goal. Simplified final documentation and the use of simpler installation methods were among the measures implemented.

“To put it simply, we’ve ‘washed out’ the things that are nice, but not necessary, to have,” says Saltvedt.

Delivery ahead of schedule

In mid-August, the project met a major milestone offshore with mechanical completion. In the beginning of September, the project made delivery that is the same as formal handover to Statoil. This means that Statoil can start operating the equipment in operation. What remains is only commissioning as-built documentation and closing of contractual and commercial arrangements, before the project is formally closed.

“We’re on track to close about two months ahead of time,” Saltvedt proudly affirms.

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As there was a lot of tough work to be done offshore, daily workouts was arranged. Here we see a rather unusual workout - on top of the platform helideck. Photo: Aibel.

He finds it both encouraging and sad. The Gullfaks B Drilling Upgrade team has been a great bunch to work with. There’s been an excellent mood from start to finish, in spite of external factors like the downturn and the strong focus on cost saving.

“Let’s hope there will be new opportunities to make use of our good experiences from this project.”

Facts about Gullfaks B Drilling Upgrade

The project has involved replacing and installing new drilling equipment and control systems on Gullfaks B.

The contract, signed with Statoil in October 2012, is worth about NOK 1.1 billion.

RDS, a subsidiary of KCA Deutag, by contributing specialist expertise in drilling systems and operations, has been an important partner for Aibel.