Having earlier warned the Norwegian authorities that the Yme field production platform could collapse should a winter storm strike, operator Talisman has finally decided to fix the ailing structure.
The company said in a letter to the Petroleum Safety Authority in July and which was seen by news agency Reuters, that the structure must be repaired to prevent such an occurrence.
The letter was sent on July 26 after the platform had been evacuated. It was quoted by Reuters as saying: “A structural collapse can arise through considerable shifts and deformations.
“The unit can then, in the worst case, drop down vertically, penetrate the tank and/or tip over on either side with a danger of damaging nearby pipelines/umbilicals.
“Without compensating measures there is great probability of cracks forming and a loss of carrying ability . . . by the platform’s legs before or during the coming winter season.”
The mobile offshore production and storage platform (MPUStor) was evacuated when cracks were discovered in the legs supporting the structure.
The issue then became, should the structure be replaced or repaired. One minority licence partner, Polish company Grupo Lotos, was in favour of finding a different way of producing Yme.
Lotos’s deputy CEO Zbigniew Paszkowicz had pointed out that there were many technical issues with the production unit, which was built by SBM Offshore. Moreover, there had been huge cost overruns and a delay of more than three years in getting the field onstream. Talisman said at the time that scrapping the platform was not being considered.
The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate reacted to the Yme news by giving Talisman until December 31 to submit a new development plan to address the safety issues, which the company said it would deliver in November.
Late last month saw Talisman and SBM agree a plan to repair the legs of the Yme platform, which stands within just a few metres of the heavy-duty jack-up Maersk Giant but which was adapted for Statoil when the field was originally developed.
A spokesman for Talisman, Vidar Nedreboe, said: “We have agreed on a plan to fix the platform together with SBM Offshore.
“Our plan is to fix the grouting around the platforms legs roughly by New Year. SBM will perform the maintenance through their subcontractors.”
SBM confirmed the plan and said that the repairs would be completed before year-end. Thereafter, it said, the two companies will be able to agree on a forward plan for the ageing structure.
Yme was produced by Statoil from February 1996 and it was closed down in 2001.
The field was abandoned in a time of low oil prices after having produced 56million barrels of oil . . . about 15% of original in-place reserves.
Talisman assumed the licence some years later, expecting to recover about 60million barrels of oil over about 10 years.
The company has invested more than $629.5million in redeveloping the field and plans to invest another $800million.
First oil from the rejuvinated field was expected in January 2009, but was delayed due at that time to load and brake faults discovered in the Maersk Giant jack-up.
The Norwegian Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) issued several warnings and injunctions over the installation aspects of the rig, which caused the delay.
In February 2011, it was announced that production start from the field would be further delayed to the second half of 2011.
The latest delays and platform structural problems have turned Yme into a major embarrassment for Talisman. It is not known when production start-up might take place.