Delivering energy that is reliable, affordable and low carbon is a big challenge – it’s what we call the energy trilemma. And it’s why bp is involved in projects that help us to progress each element of this complex puzzle.
That means growing our renewables portfolio to support the energy transition while continuing to develop resilient hydrocarbons projects that help to strengthen energy security.
It also means that our teams around the world are busier than ever. We take a look at three resilient hydrocarbons projects due to start up in 2023 to find out more about their progress this year. Plus, we check in on a fourth that plans to bring essential new lower carbon gas supplies to market in the next five years.
Watch the installation in progress
Moving large, heavy pieces of oil and gas equipment is challenging at the best of times. But what do you do when you don’t even have the cranes big enough to lift them?
That was the problem facing our team in Azerbaijan this year when figuring out how to install two massive drilling modules – with a combined weight of 4,750 tonnes – onto our new Azeri Central East (ACE) project platform. The answer: an innovative technique called ‘jack and skid’.
As the name suggests, the operation involves jacking the modules up to full platform height before sliding them into place along rails. It is such a precise operation that the team had just a few millimetres of breathing space either side of those rails to correctly place the module. Watch the film above to see how it was done.
“The sheer effort of the team to make sure we did this safely was extraordinary,” says Neal Phillips, ACE project general manager. “And they did it in the face of significant supply delays and complications caused by the conflict in Ukraine, which shut our normal canal routes.”
An aerial view of the 2.5-tonne module being moved into position with millimetres to spare
Completing the process marked a huge milestone for our wider $6 billion ACE project. Due onstream by the end of 2023, the new 48-slot production, drilling and quarters platform is designed to process up to 90,000 barrels of oil a day.
It’s also our most advanced platform, with fully automated drilling facilities and the platform’s main control room located at the onshore terminal. ACE will have only one gas-fired generator; additional back-up power is supplied by connecting to the offshore grid via the East Azeri platform, which negates the need for a back-up generator, reducing ACE’s CO2 emissions.
Running our new our operations on the ACE platform on back-up electric power is all part of a much bigger aim to electrify all of our Caspian Sea operations and reduce our emissions.
We’ve got a host of plans in place over the next few years, including:
A bird’s eye view of the new quarters and utilities platform safely installed at the GTA’s offshore site
Installing and commissioning a traditional jacket and topsides at an offshore platform can take months. But thanks to an innovative new design, our team in Mauritania and Senegal slashed that to just 10 days in September 2022.
The platform in question is our new quarters and utilities (QU) platform at the Greater Tortue Ahmeyim (GTA) gas field. Having travelled more than 11,000 nautical miles from its construction site in China, the QU safely ‘lifted’ itself out of the water using four giant hydraulic legs.
The GTA gas development is the biggest project in our portfolio and has enough gas to support production for at least 20 years. No wonder then that both the presidents of Mauritania and Senegal have declared it a national project of strategic importance.
The QU’s hydraulic lift marks a major step towards our goal of first gas by the end of 2023. Once up and running, the QU will provide accommodation and act as the nerve centre for the world’s first nearshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal. That includes housing a power station, water treatment plant, the terminal’s control station and the harbour master’s control station, to manage vessels moving around the hub.
Rahman Rahmanov, vice president of projects, Mauritania and Senegal
In May 2022, GTA had hit another major milestone with the successful installation of the last concrete caisson built in Dakar, Senegal. The project’s 21 massive 16,000-tonne structures, each nearly the size of the Arc de Triomphe, form a 1.2-kilometre offshore breakwater designed to shelter the nearshore hub and terminal from prevailing weather and ocean conditions.
The fabrication yard where the caissons were built is the first of its kind in Africa, and the project has employed more than 2,000 locals to support the caisson construction work.
The 21 concrete caissons now form a protective barrier for the GTA hub
Building, moving and installing new offshore equipment is always challenging. But imagine doing it while keeping the oil and gas flowing through an existing operational asset.
For some of our North Sea team, they don’t have to – they’re doing it right now at the Seagull project in the Central North Sea, in a process that project manager Nicola Stevenson describes as the equivalent of performing “open heart surgery”.
Seagull is a collaborative brownfield development between bp, Japex and operator Neptune Energy that will tie back four new subsea wells to the central processing facility (CPF) at the bp-operated Eastern Trough Area Project (ETAP) hub. Partially using existing infrastructure, it will extend the life of ETAP, producing new gas and oil supplies that will be delivered to the CATS terminal in Teesside and the Forties Pipeline System facilities in central Scotland, respectively.
The project hit a major milestone in January 2022, when a floating accommodation vessel (flotel) was successfully connected to ETAP’s CPF. This houses up to 400 people, meaning we can bolster the workforce to deliver the Seagull project without impacting bed space on the ETAP CPF needed for day-to-day continued operations.
Nicola Stevenson, Seagull project general manager
The ETAP platform with the flotel accommodating Seagull project workers connected to the left
“That was a big moment for the team,” says Nicola. “The onshore readiness team had done their work, ready for the bigger team to get going offshore.”
Since then, the team has hit a number of other milestones, including downloading the first software packages to support commissioning and safely completing all ‘hot work’ (any process that uses an ignition source).
“The safety performance at Seagull has been very good,” says Nicola. “We’ve reached 500,000 hours without a lost time injury, which is testament to the integration between the platform and project teams.”
Seagull is due onstream in mid-2023 and is the latest tieback project in a wider programme to extend field life across the wider North Sea region. For example, both Vorlich and Alligin have been operating as tiebacks since 2020.
Next up is Murlach, another ETAP tieback project that we’re aiming to bring onstream in 2025. As well as supporting local supply chains, tiebacks like Seagull that make use of existing infrastructure have lower lifecycle carbon emissions compared to new-build production facilities.
The Tangguh LNG plant in Bintuni Bay, Papua Barat
Before we start any construction on a project, our teams carry out a huge amount of planning and preparation. A process Brian Gebruers and his team at our Tangguh gas asset in Indonesia know very well.
Having already extended the asset once, we’re now carrying out a second, highly complex expansion with three parts: developing the nearby Ubadari gas field, carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) of the Vorwata reservoir CO2 emissions, and enhancing gas recovery through onshore compression.
Named Tangguh UCC, the project could help us to recover up to an additional 2.1 trillion cubic feet of gas for domestic and export markets.
Meanwhile, new CCUS infrastructure could help us to remove and reinject the reservoir CO2 from all of Tangguh’s gas supplies. This could drastically reduce its operational emissions, making Tangguh competitive on carbon intensity for LNG plants worldwide. It could also represent a significant contribution to bp’s Aim 1 – net zero operations.
Brian Gebruers, Tangguh UCC project general manager
A diagram showing how CO2 will be injected back into the Vorwata reservoir through CCUS
Some of the team’s biggest milestones this year have focused on improving value, including the decision to build modular assets offsite at established fabrication yards in Indonesia, rather than building everything from scratch on site, which brings logistical and other complexities due to the remote location of the Tangguh site.
“Our core mission,” says Brian, Tangguh UCC project general manager, “is to keep delivering commercial value for bp and Indonesia. At the same time, we’ve challenged ourselves to get after supporting bp’s sustainability frame. As well as Aim 1, we’re looking at how we can particularly support Aim 16 [enhancing biodiversity] and Aim 19 [unlock circularity]. It’s going to be a busy few years!”
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