The first phase of the giant Johan Sverdrup project started-up in October 2019, several months ahead of schedule, more than 30% under budget and with a very good safety record. This paper focuses on the execution of phase 1 of this mega-project – from the concept selection and engineering phase, to the global contracting strategy, through the construction across up to 30 building sites globally and until the end of the completions phase offshore Norway – attempting to explain what went well and why, and highlighting potential lessons of relevance to other offshore mega projects on the NCS and globally.

Among other things, the paper looks at the impact of different variables in explaining the improvements made during the execution of the project – market effects, procurement strategies, scope optimization and execution performance. The paper then shows that while market effects played an important role – in part reflecting a project being sanctioned at the beginning of the recent oil and gas downturn – the true driver of the success of the project is found elsewhere.

As phase II of the Johan Sverdrup development is already underway, the paper also looks at efforts made to sustain these drivers of success into the second phase of the project. The paper also describes which parts of the improvement journey that may not be necessarily replicable in the next stage of the megaproject.

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