Regulatory advice helps new operator to stay lean

External planning expertise assisted Lundin Norway’s transition from capex to opex in developing Brynhild

Vessel in harbour

Staying lean and mean organisationally, while meeting regulatory requirements in two nations, was a priority for Lundin Norway when developing its Brynhild field offshore Norway. The field is the company’s first development as an operator.

“We are a relatively small company and we want to build the competences of our own team while also using external providers to do non-core business tasks. This avoids us having to build huge support functions internally,” chief operating officer, Erik Sverre Jenssen explained. 

Brynhild is not a complex development, but it does involve numerous stakeholders and crosses international boundaries. It is a subsea tie-back to the Pierce field, operated in the UK sector by Enterprise Oil. The production facility for both Brynhild and Pierce is the Haewene Brim FPSO, operated by Bluewater on behalf of Shell. 

Lundin contracted DNV GL to help develop a ‘ready-for-operation’ (RFO) roadmap early in its journey to first oil, which flowed in December 2014, from Brynhild. 

“DNV GL has good oversight of regulatory requirements in Norway and the UK,” said Torstein Sanness, who became chairman of Lundin Norway in April. “We were open in saying that this was not going to be about what is nice to have. It had to be just enough so that the next time we do it in Norway or the UK, we pass with flying colours. We did not want to have any extra flowsheets, bureaucracy or procedures.” 

A clean start 

Lundin saw Brynhild as a perfect project for its ‘lean and mean’ philosophy, while evolving from pure exploration to become a fully integrated exploration and production company. “Having no project management systems installed was a challenge, but also an opportunity, because we did not carry a backlog of existing bureaucracy,” said Jenssen. “It was a rare chance to define something from scratch.” 

When the Brynhild project was established in 2011, Lundin Norway had limited people with operational experience, observed Kari Nielsen, head of field operations. “We had to build the Operations organisation, and to establish all necessary systems to become a prudent operator.” 

DNV GL was engaged to help Lundin Norway establish a plan for Brynhild Operations. The scope involved Lundin and DNV GL creating a well-defined transition path, including identifying the most common and support tasks essential to an operator along the road to planned production. 

The roadmap was developed based on reference documentation from Lundin, regulatory requirements and DNV GL’s experience and knowledge of operational best practice. This allowed Lundin to simultaneously build an organisation and to deal with documentation and other administrative tasks. 

“During Phase I in early 2012, DNV GL helped us to identify a high level plan highlighting the most important tasks and obstacles to planned production start,” Nielsen recalled. “Later that year, we started Phase II, and DNV GL made a detailed plan for RFO and ensured all regulatory requirements were met.”

Elements considered in the RFO roadmap to meet regulatory requirements included tasks and obstacles under key headings such as: handover to Operations; the first period of production; operation; logistics management; and technical integrity, inspection, monitoring, maintenance and modifications. Primary activities analysed in detail under each of these headings included: production operations; development; reservoir; drilling and completion; facilities; health, safety, environmental and quality (HSEQ); and logistics. Support activities were also covered. 

“When DNV GL created the detailed plan for RFO, our Operations team consisted of only three people, so DNV GL’s involvement was fundamental,” Nielsen said. “The plan was good and we followed it. It was also used as the basis for planning development of the Edvard Grieg field offshore Norway.”

Learning points 

“The process of starting up a new operation or organisation was more complex than expected,” said Nielsen. “We needed DNV GL’s experience in that phase. The commissioning phase had also not been clearly defined, so the plan helped with that.” 

Asked whether insights from the experience with the Brynhild roadmap for RFO are applicable in other projects, Sanness said: “In the past, if you had some good ideas, they were hard to sell. Most companies are now actively seeking good advice because no-one has any choice but to do things smarter and cheaper.” 

Lundin Norway will continue to learn from Brynhild, Sanness added: “We have a slogan in this company: ‘There is no best procedure, but there is always a better practice’. There will be a continuous follow-up on what we have established, a continuous learning experience. Then we will want to implement any changes not only on Brynhild, but also for Edvard Grieg and for any other projects that we have in the pipeline. 

“We are in this for the long haul. Let us take this opportunity while the oil price is low to get some necessary changes and keep optimistic about proving up new resources.”

Kari Nielsen, head of field operations, Lundin Norway
Kari Nielsen, head of field operations, Lundin Norway