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Equinor's Njord Field Comes Back Online After Six-Year Overhaul

Renewed gas production will be welcome in a tight European market

Njord offshore platform and FSO
Even Flogstad / Equinor

Published Dec 28, 2022 5:04 PM by The Maritime Executive

Just in time to serve Europe's desperate need for more natural gas, Equinor's mature Njord field has come back online and is resuming production. 

For the last six years, Equinor has been investing billions in an overhaul of the Njord platform and its associated FSO. The improvements should extend the life of the field until the 2040s - an impressive tenure for a development that came online back in the 1990s. 

Njord is located in the Norwegian Sea, about 15 miles offshore near the port of Draugen. It was discovered in 1986, and the production plan was approved in 1995. It came online in 1997 and produced nearly 170 million barrels of oil and 11 bcm of natural gas over the next 20 years.

As the field reached its end of life, improved drilling technology allowed Equinor to plan for additional recovery of the reservoir's bountiful gas reserves. 
However, the equipment needed repair and upgrading, and in 2016 Equinor (known as Statoil at the time) shut down production and brought both the platform and the FSO into shipyard for repairs. The timing was economically favorable, with oil prices at a rock bottom $30-40 per barrel.

The platform, Njord A, went to the Kvaerner Stord shipyard for refurbishment. Njord Bravo went to Aibel's Haugesund yard, where it was extensively overhauled. Njord A is now ready for additional tie-ins to the nearby Bauge and Fenja fields, and 10 new wells will be drilled nearby. 

 The docking was an industry first - but it was delayed for several years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a series of unexpected challenges. 

The overall cost of the overhaul came to more than $3 billion, nearly twice the expected price. However, with today's spectacularly high European gas prices - which stand at about six times the gas price at the time of project start in 2016 - the investment should more than pay for itself.

"The Njord field will now deliver important volumes to the market for another two decades," said Geir Tungesvik, Equinor's EVP for Projects. "This is the first time a platform and an FSO have been disconnected from the field, upgraded, and towed back, and we have now doubled the field’s life."

The project was carried out almost entirely in Norway, with 90 percent Norwegian content and Norwegian labor. With all the upgrades, the field should be able to produce just as much energy in the next 20 years as it did in its first 20 years. 

“Our ambition is to produce about the same volume from Njord and Hyme as we have produced so far, more than 250 million barrels of oil equivalent," says Kjetil Hove, Equinor's executive vice president for Exploration & Production Norway.“This is illustrative of our strategic work on the NCS to extend the fields’ productive life and tying back new discoveries to existing infrastructure,"