Cygnus alpha wellhead topside sailaway Hartlepool

13 May 2014, Zwijndrecht

Key infrastructure for the Cygnus gas field left the Heerema Hartlepool yard today as the project takes the next step towards targeted first gas in late 2015. Operator GDF SUEZ E&P UK Ltd (38.75%) and partners Centrica (48.75%) and Bayerngas (12.5%) were on site to witness the Alpha wellhead platform begin its 123 nautical mile journey to site. It is the first of four platforms for Cygnus, the largest gas discovery in the Southern North Sea in the last 25 years.

The project is providing investment and jobs to Hartlepool and the surrounding area with around 450 people working on Heerema’s Hartlepool site for the project during 2014, estimated today at more than 1 million man hours of fabrication.The topsides weigh 1,640 tonnes, and at 23 x 23 x 10 metres in size, have taken approximately 16 months to build from the first steel cutting ceremony held in December 2012.In August 2012, GDF SUEZ E&P UK placed a frame contract with Heerema Fabrication Group’s Hartlepool yard for the construction of three topsides, a compression module, two bridges and a flare tower for the four offshore platforms for the Cygnus field.The compression module as well as the 4,000 tonne process and utilities topside for the Alpha platform are also currently under construction at Heerema, as well as the 3,500 tonne wellhead topsides for the Bravo platform, both with scheduled delivery of April 2015.

Iain Wright, MP for Hartlepool and Shadow Minister for Industry, said: “The Cygnus project is an excellent example of British engineering and highlights this region’s position as a global leader in this sector. I am delighted to see the first platform sailing out from a Hartlepool yard. The hundreds of jobs and investment created by this project, not just now but for years to come, are a real boost for Hartlepool and the surrounding area.”

Jean-Claude Perdigues, Managing Director of GDF SUEZ E&P UK, said: “The sailaway is the exciting result of a successful partnership that has delivered the Cygnus Alpha wellhead platform to a tight schedule. This is the first piece of topside equipment to make its way to the Cygnus field, 150 kilometres off the coast of Lincolnshire. Parts of the subsea infrastructure recently left from the Isleburn yard in Nigg, with the first transportation and installation campaign now underway.

“Our relationship with Heerema has been a valuable part of the project. Ensuring construction runs to schedule means we remain on track to accomplish first gas next year. It is fantastic to see the physical manifestations of the project begin their transit to the field.”

Greg McKenna, Director of Non-Operated Assets at Centrica Energy, said: “Cygnus Alpha platform is the third consecutive platform we’ve built here in Hartlepool.  This significant investment by Centrica and its partners has helped to secure hundreds of jobs in the local area and gas supply for the UK. This project is another great example of what we can achieve through UK investment, by developing the skills and infrastructure needed to ensure we get the most out of our resources in the North Sea.”

Bayerngas UK’s Managing Director, Gerry Harrison, said “Heerema have done a great job; safely meeting a tight schedule.  This sail-away milestone is an excellent demonstration of how strong partnerships can delivery projects on schedule."

Koos-Jan van Brouwershaven, Chief Executive Officer of Heerema Fabrication Group, commented:  “The sailaway of the first completed topside for the Cygnus project demonstrates that we are committed to our promises for a high quality product and a safe delivery according to schedule. The skilled and talented workforce at the Hartlepool yard and the pleasant relationship with our client GDF SUEZ were key to a successful and timely delivery of the Alpha wellhead topside.”

The Cygnus field has gross 2P reserves of approximately 18 billion cubic metres. By 2016, it will be the second largest individual gas producer in the UK.