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Image courtesty of Kvaener

Norway’s Statoil began construction Monday on the $29 billion Johan Sverdrup project in Norway’s North Sea.

Statoil said Kværner metal worker Stian Myrvold Green started up the machine that will cut the steel for the riser platform jacket on the Johan Sverdrup field.

The steel jacket now being built at Kværner Verdal and will weigh 26,500 tons, making it the biggest steel jacket in Europe.

“This is a special day. We’ve been working thoroughly for a long time making the preparations for this exciting and complex project. It feels great now that we’ve started construction on one of the biggest industrial projects in Europe,” senior vice president for the Johan Sverdrup development project Kjetel Digre said.

The steel jacket for the riser platform will be transported and installed in 2017.

Due to the jacket’s size, it will be shipped to the field on the biggest barge in the world for this type of transport, the Heeremas H-851.

In order to receive the 260 meter long barge, the quay at Kværner Verdal is being upgraded.

Statoil said construction has also began on a 246 ton template for the wells at Johan Sverdrup, to be pre-drilled on the field from March 2016.

The template is being produced at Vlissingen in the Netherlands.

The well template will be installed on the field in the course of the summer and autumn 2015.

“The steel jacket will also be one of the most complex ever built by the industry. Not only will we route the land-based power through the jacket, we’ll also be controlling the subsea water injection and exporting the field’s oil and gas from it,” Digre said.

Production at the $29 billion North Sea field is expected to start by 2019 and has a projected break even point of under $40 per barrel.

The field is expected to produce up to 3 billion barrels of oil equivalents over 50 years.

Operating costs are projected to be under $5 per barrel once the project gets off the ground.

The Johan Sverdrup partnership consists of Statoil, Lundin Norway, Petoro, Det norske oljeselskap and Maersk Oil.

The partnership has recommended that Statoil serve as the operator for all the field’s phases.