Production resumes on Gryphon Alpha installation

The Gryphon Alpha, a floating production facility in the North Sea operated by Maersk. Picture: Contributed
The Gryphon Alpha, a floating production facility in the North Sea operated by Maersk. Picture: Contributed
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PRODUCTION has finally resumed on a North Sea floating production facility, 27 months after its crew was at the centre of a dramatic rescue when it broke free from some of its anchor chains in stormy seas.

In February, 2011, more than 70 oilworkers were airlifted by helicopter from the Gryphon Alpha, a floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) installation, operated by Maersk 175 miles North east of Aberdeen.

Production was shut down after four of its 10 anchor chains failed in the 30ft seas.

Maersk today announced: “ The Gryphon FPSO is back in production following a major overhaul of the vessel. Once all the associated fields are fully operational over the coming months, production will ramp up in excess of 20,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day (boepd). Production from Gryphon is expected to continue for the next decade. “

The spokesman explained: “The Gryphon sustained damage in a storm on 4 February, 2011, when four anchor chains broke and the vessel moved off station. This caused considerable damage to the subsea architecture requiring the Gryphon FPSO to be towed and dry docked in Damen shipyard in Rotterdam for repairs and upgrades.

“While work commenced on removing and replacing the damaged subsea equipment, Maersk Oil was designing, procuring, installing and rebuilding simultaneously. During this period of upgrade, Maersk Oil took the opportunity to acquire an extensive 4D seismic programme over the wider Gryphon area, gained operatorship of the Maclure field and in parallel, conducted a successful drilling campaign on the Tullich field, further consolidating Maersk Oil’s position in this core area. “

During the repairs the mooring system has been replaced and 550 tonnes of steel replaced to extend the vessel’s structural life. A new marine control system has also been installed and the engine thrusters overhauled.

Upgrade

Martin Rune Pedersen, the managing director of Maersk Oil UK said: “ The storm and resultant damage was a distressing and unwelcome event but along with critical repairs we have succeeded in using this incident to bring forward an upgrade of the installation and extend the productive life of Gryphon for another decade.

“The sheer size of this major re-instatement project should not be underestimated; with significant overhauls and upgrades to tanks, positioning and mooring systems, process control, power management and the subsea infrastructure. Managing a major and challenging re-development like this in less than two and a half years with a first-rate safety record was a significant achievement by the project team”

He added: “ During the last two years, we have revaluated the fields’ potential using new seismic data. We are looking forward to a high level of drilling activity over the next couple of years, allowing us to maximise value from the reservoirs.”