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Project execution steers steady course through pandemic

The pandemic has created unforeseen and challenging times for the Solveig and Rolvsnes projects. But flexible cooperation between Lundin Energy Norway and TechnipFMC has enabled us to solve these together.

When society almost shut down in March of last year, the Solveig and Rolvsnes tie-in projects were about to embark upon a very hectic period. Fabrication was under way in several countries and a major offshore installation campaign was scheduled to run all through the summer.

“There were many issues, and they popped up quickly, but we found practical solutions that allowed the project to continue to move forward. And all in an extremely short timeframe,” says SVP Subsea Projects in TechnipFMC Knut Bøe.

Managing Director Kristin Færøvik agrees that the joint project team has weathered the ordeal with flying colours.

“Obviously, the pandemic was completely unexpected, but when the situation developed as it did, the form of cooperation we had already put in place paid off with an extra bonus. The status today is that we are on schedule,” says Kristin Færøvik.

Bøe and Færøvik meet, digitally of course, to sum up the experience gained in the project so far.

Flexible contract
Lundin Energy Norway entered into a collaboration with TechnipFMC as early as 2017 to mature and develop smaller projects on the Utsira High in the North Sea. The intention was to integrate the supplier at an early stage in order to implement the field development as fast as possible, and streamline the process around changes that had to be made while the project was under way. In 2019, TechnipFMC was awarded the main contract for developing the Solveig field, and for developing subsea equipment for long-term test production from the Rolvsnes discovery. These two projects will be implemented as one joint project.

It is precisely this opportunity to make changes whilst the project is actually underway that has been very beneficial during the pandemic.

“Fabrication was under way in several countries, and we soon saw that it could become difficult to get the components transported to Norway. Certain structures that were manufactured at a yard in Spain were of particular concern,” says Færøvik.

Knut Bøe says that the project made a drastic decision.

“The subsea structures were nowhere near complete. However, we made the decision to get them on board boats and transport them to Norway as quickly as possible. We had the capacity to complete the building and testing processes at our site outside Arendal,” he says.

“There is no doubt that this move saved us from further delays in the project,” Færøvik adds.

Strict infection control
2020 was the year when most of the marine installations were to be carried out for the Solveig and Rolvsnes projects. The subsea installations were going to be transported out and placed on the field. Rock dumping was planned to prepare the routes before laying the umbilicals and pipelines. All of these are complex operations in their own right. This time we also had to take extremely strict infection control measures into consideration. Both from the authorities in multiple countries, but not least, the ones we introduced ourselves in the project.

“An outbreak of infection among the crew on one of the boats could halt the operation, and lead to consequences for all parts of the project,” says Knut Bøe. “That’s why we took drastic steps to keep the crew and the vessels free from infection.”

Over the course of several weeks, the pipelaying vessel shuttled between the spoolbase at Orkanger and the field in the North Sea.

“We set up a separate cordoned-off temporary quarters area at Orkanger for the crews that were going on board. They were tested before they arrived and we established local test capacity to re-test people before they went on board. We did all of this in close consultation with the chief public health officer in Orkland municipality,” Bøe explains. “If anyone had told me, six months earlier, that we’d be doing something like this, I wouldn’t even have taken them seriously.”

“We also introduced very drastic measures at all onshore sites, including for people who were scheduled to work on the installations offshore,” says Kristin Færøvik. “But I think we did the right thing. And we’ve managed to keep vessels and platforms infection-free. What probably impresses me the most is how people have handled the situation, and the enormous commitment and effort we’ve made together. The Norwegian word ‘dugnad’ – which means a voluntary community effort – is starting to become quite a catchword in the context of the pandemic, but this is truly an example of an all-out effort that has yielded results,” says Kristin Færøvik.