Gas flows from world’s smallest topside

Gas flows from world’s smallest topside

Rijswijk: Wintershall is expanding its natural gas production in the Netherlands: the unmanned mini-platform L6-B has started to produce natural gas off the Dutch North Sea coast.

The first so called ‘Minimum Facility’ platform was built in just nine months and brought to its offshore location in June 2014. The advantage of this new generation of platforms, the subsidiary of Germany’s BASF maintains, is that they can be deployed in particularly shallow waters and can economically produce even from very small natural gas fields. Furthermore, they can cut down on costs thanks to the short time needed for construction and the simple installation. The costs for such a platform are less than half of a conventional satellite platform, Wintershall claimed in a release.

The platform is located in field L6-B in the middle of a restricted military zone, and Wintershall Noordzee is the first company that is allowed to operate in this area.

The facility is anchored in the seabed through suction piles, rises about 18 m above the sea and has three decks but no helideck. The facility can accommodate two producing wells. Since there is only minimum processing equipment on the platform, the expected visit frequency is low. The substructure weighs 1,100 tons, the top side just around 100 tons, making it Wintershall claims the smallest in the world. To compare, the close by platform L8-P4 weighs 4,500 tons. From there the mini-platform is controlled, operated and supplied with electricity. A pipeline will transport the gas produced in L6-B to the neighbouring platform L8-P4.

Wintershall operates 25 offshore platforms in Dutch, German and UK waters.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.

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