The North sea Yme oil field was discovered in 1987, production started in 1996 and ceased after 6 years when it was considered no longer profitable to operate. In 2007 a new development was approved, being Yme the first field re-opened in the Norwegian Continental Shelf. The concept selected was a MOPUStor: comprising a jack-up unit grouted to a subsea storage tank. Due to compromised structural integrity and lack of regulatory compliance that came to light shortly after installation, the platform was required to be removed . The remaining riser caisson and the future 1050 t wellhead module required a support to allow the re-use of the facilities and tap the remaining oil reserves. The innovative tubular frame support was designed as a braced unit, secured to the existing MOPUstor leg receptacles and holding a grouted clamp larger than typical offshore clamps for which design guidance in ISO is available. The existing facilities had to be modified to receive the new structure and to guide it in place within the small clearances available.
The aim of this paper is to describe the solutions developed to prepare and verify the substructure for installation; to predict the dynamic behavior of a subsea heavy lift operation with small clearances around existing assets (down to 150 mm); and to place large volume high strength grouted connections, exceeding the height and thickness values from any project ever done before. In order to avoid early age degradation of the grout, a 1 mm maximum relative movement requirement was the operation design philosophy. A reliable system to stabilize the caisson, which displacements were up to 150 mm, was developed to meet the criteria during grouting and curing. In the stabilizer system design, as well as the plan for contingencies with divers to restart grouting in the event of a breakdown, the lessons learned from latest wind turbine industry practices and from the first attempt to re-develop the field using grouted connections were incorporated. Currently the substructure is secured to provide the long term integrity of the structure the next 20 years of future production in the North Sea environment.