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Statoil lines up Cap-X for Bauge development

Norwegian player set to put new subsea concept to work on field that is part of Njord Future project

Statoil is aiming to revolutionise the subsea market by introducing the Cap-X subsea concept that it developed in-house to develop the Bauge field off Norway, which is a part of the Njord Future project.

The Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum & Energy (MPE) sent out invitations on Friday to several media outlets to attend the official hand-over of an "important plan for development and production" to Norwegian Energy Minister Terje Soviknes on Monday 27 March. However, the ministry declined to reveal any further details about the event.

VIDEO: Cap-X a 'new subsea generation'

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Upstream has reason to believe that Statoil will unveil plans to develop the Bauge field using its new Cap-X subsea concept. The field, with 66 million barrels of oil equivalent, is to be developed as a subsea tie-back to the Njord A floating production platform.

It stands to be the first project ever to use the Cap-X concept, which has, according to some Statoil sources, the potential to “shake up” the subsea industry.

A Statoil spokesman declined to comment when asked whether the announcement on Monday will involve Cap-X and the Bauge field.

The new subsea solution is a combination of existing and new technology. It is one-fourth the size of the subsea templates used for equivalent purposes of late, and it enables more operations from a service vessel instead of a far more costly drilling rig.

In an interview with Norwegian website Petro.no, the man behind Statoil’s idea said the technology will allow for several new players to bid for subsea projects.

“Statoil will own the technology to ensure that we get one solution which all providers have access to. We will not exclude anyone, but rather open the possibility for multiple vendors. And if some companies are trying to patent around this fundamental idea to secure own benefits, we will pull out,” said Kjell Einar Ellingsen, who developed Cap-X technology in his own garage.

Subsea cost cutter

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At the heart of Cap-X is a suction pile, designed to provide a very firm foundation set in the seabed, both for the drilling of a horizontal well and for supporting the completed well and wellhead. The pile, resembling an upturned cylindrical steel bucket, is around five metres in diameter and some eight to 10 metres deep, depending on prevailing seabed conditions.

Installation will be achieved in the conventional way for suction piles by lowering the pile to enter the seabed soils, at first under its own weight until it rests on soil friction, followed by pumping out seawater from inside the pile to enable it to penetrate to its full depth.

Statoil and partners last week approved the Njord Future and Bauge projects in the Norwegian Sea, unlocking contract awards that will keep hard-pressed domestic suppliers busy for several years. The announcement was a particularly welcome boost for contractor Kvaerner, whose Nkr5 billion ($589 million) job to upgrade the Njord A semi-submersible will bring welcome activity in western Norwegian communities hard hit by the oil-price slump. Compatriot Aker Solutions will get a Nkr1 billion portion of the job as an engineering subcontractor.

Statoil and partners Engie, Dea, Faroe and VNG sanctioned the Njord Future plans last week. The same group plus Norwegian independent Point Resources have also decided to go ahead with a tie-back of the nearby Bauge oil discovery to Njord.

Njord Future and Bauge projects get green light

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The partners aim to produce another 177 million boe from Njord and the satellite Hyme field, plus another 66 million boe from Bauge, a 2013 oil discovery formerly known as Snilehorn.

Bauge will be developed in parallel with the Njord upgrade, so that production can start when the platform is due back on stream in late 2020. Cost estimates will be published when the company submits development plans for the two projects "shortly", a spokesman said.

In addition to Hyme and Bauge, Njord has been tapped as the preferred host for the VNG-operated Pil & Bue discoveries, with oil and gas resources totalling 90 million and 200 million boe, respectively.