The Operator and the license partnership have set an extremely high ambition for recovery from the Johan Sverdrup field, even before a barrel of oil has been produced. How is this possible? This paper describes the characteristics of the reservoir, as well as early assessments and investments for improved oil recovery (IOR) to ensure flexibility. In addition, data acquisition, reservoir monitoring, new technologies and digitalisation, as well as new ways of working are addressed. This will be the key enablers for a recovery of more than 70% of the field’s oil resources.
Johan Sverdrup is the third largest oil field on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS) with a recoverable volume range of 2,2 to 3,2 billion b.o.e. The reservoir is characterized by excellent reservoir properties with a strongly undersaturated oil. The primary drainage strategy is water flooding, including re-injection of all produced water, supplemented by water-alternating-gas (WAG) injection at the end of the oil production plateau. The field came on stream in October 2019.
Going back to the early stages of the Johan Sverdrup field development, it was obvious from the start that this would be an independent development solution with a long lifetime. Given the excellent reservoir, this was considered as a unique opportunity to plan for a high resource exploitation, and make sure that future business opportunities in this context could be utilized in a technical and economically attractive way.
A very early screening was conducted to investigate which IOR measures should be further matured. With subsurface evaluations as the base, this maturation also included assessments on technical feasibility and potential implications for development solutions. The objective was to ensure sufficient flexibility in early field design. It also implied that the Johan Sverdrup license had to consider pre-investments prior to any implementation decision.
Data acquisition and reservoir monitoring strategies were also started early on, which e.g. led to a full field Permanent Reservoir Monitoring (PRM) decision, with installation starting summer 2019. This gives a baseline for parts of the field before production start, and when completed in 2020 it will be the world’s largest fiber based PRM system. Fiber optics are also installed in the wells. In addition, a dedicated observation well is part of the development plan. The idea is that PRM and fiber data results, in addition to repeated logging in the observation well, will be key information to evaluate business cases for future IOR or new technology measures.
Digitalisation has also been a key aspect of this, and several subsurface-focused digitalisation initiatives have been implemented during the field development, giving the operator the opportunity to implement new ways of working and enabling new ways of cooperation in the partnership as data and applications are shared within the owner group in a digital setting. The overall objective of digitalisation in this context is to further optimize the analysis and management of the Johan Sverdrup reservoir – and hence value of the Johan Sverdrup field – for the license owners.