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Audit of well design on Ormen Lange

During the period 1 February - 1 December 2005, we conducted an audit of A/S Norske Shell (Shell) targeting the company's planning of the Ormen Lange wells. During the audit, we did not find any nonconformities in relation to regulatory requirements. It is our impression that Shell strives to meet regulatory requirements and internal requirements related to well design, barriers and qualification of new technology.


Ormen Lange (Source: Hydro)The Ormen Lange field is located 120 kilometers off the coast of Møre og Romsdal (see map). Norsk Hydro is the development operator, while Shell will take over as operator during the operation phase.

In addition, Shell is responsible for implementing the drilling activity on behalf of Hydro.

The audit focused on the following areas:

  • Qualification of new equipment
  • Subsurface safety valves
  • Pipe hanger for 9-5/8" casing
  • Gravel packing and sand shield completion
  • Well design and alternative solutions
  • Christmas tree with casing hanger and tubing hanger
  • Subsurface safety valves
  • Extension pipe and pipe hanger
  • Lower completion
  • Training and involvement of personnel
  • Transfer of experience
  • Well intervention

Background for the audit

According to the award letter from the Norwegian Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) shall:

  • Contribute towards reducing the risk level for the overall petroleum activities.
  • Implement a risk-based audit of contractors, operators, licensees, managers and owners.
  • Ensure that the players facilitate the technical and operational integrity of the facilities.
  • Ensure that the players prevent incidents that have significant potential in relation to major accidents.
  • Ensure that a good HSE culture is created in the industry.
  • Make the players accountable with regard to sharing experience.

This audit is one of several audits aimed at various operators in the field of well design. The audits have had different focus areas. This audit is different from the others since it was conducted prior to the drilling operation.

The Ormen Lange wells are the first gas producers on the Norwegian shelf with 9-5/8 " production flowlines, so-called "big bore" wells. Shell has carried out comprehensive studies of well design with associated barriers. Large production volumes require the qualification and use of new technology.

Purpose of the audit

The purpose of the audit was to make sure that Shell has safeguarded the regulatory requirements for design of well barriers, monitoring and testing of these as well as use of new technology and qualification of such technology in a planning phase, cf. the Facilities Regulations, Section 47 on well barriers and Section 8 on qualification and use of new technology and new methods, as well as the Activities Regulations, Section 44 on maintenance.

Result of the audit

Our general impression is that Shell strives to meet the regulatory requirements and internal requirements related to well design, barriers and qualification of new technology.

During the project period, comprehensive studies and qualification of equipment have been carried out to ensure proper adaptation to the conditions required by the Ormen Lange field in order to achieve a good, safe drilling operation and optimal production.

The planning process has been clearly documented, which has been useful to us in the implementation of this audit.

The audit has not revealed nonconformities in relation to regulatory requirements or Shell's internal requirements for the design planning.

Contact in the PSA:
Mike Theiss