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Aker and Hess home in on Valhall Flank West FID

Studies expected to be complete next month with decision expected in December

Aker BP and US partner Hess are moving steadily towards a final investment decision on their Valhall Flank West oil development in the southern part of the Norwegian North Sea where they are targeting first production in 2020.

Since May, front-end engineering and design studies have been ongoing by the Vallhall Flank West alliance, which consists of Aker Solutions and Kvaerner.

According to Aker BP, the new contract model under which the FEED studies are being undertaken has been working well.

The FEED phase is expected to be completed in November. “We will make a final investment decision and submit a plan for development and operation to the authorities in December,” an Aker BP spokesman told Upstream.

Both the topsides and jacket for the unmanned wellhead platform will be built at Kvaerner's Vaerdal yard in Norway.

“First oil is planned for the second quarter of 2020,” the spokesman added, referring to an onstream target that is one year earlier than was originally planned.

In April this year Aker BP announced that it had signed long-term alliances covering both platform and subsea work on several projects in Norway.

At Valhall Flank West, the subsea alliance, which consists of Aker Solutions, Subsea 7 and Aker BP, is responsible for subsea pipelines and tie-in to the existing Valhall field centre.

The project is planned as an unmanned wellhead platform with 12 well slots, tied back to the Valhall field centre.

Capital expenditure for the project has been forecast at about Nkr7 billion ($1 billion).

There are some suggestions that project costs could be lower than originally planned. However, on the other hand, there may be some increased costs relating to the larger amount of oil that Aker BP is aiming to exploit compared to original plans.

The operator is now planning to produce 89 million barrels of oil via the project, up from 50 million originally, which may mean added development costs.

In all, Aker BP is hoping that Valhall West Flank and other projects in the area can contribute another 500 million barrels of oil equivalent of resources to the Valhall field, which has already produced 1 billion barrels of oil since start-up in 1982.