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Vorlich starts up

Release date:
26 November 2020
The third major upstream project to come online for bp this year, this Central North Sea subsea tieback demonstrates bp’s focus on fast-payback hydrocarbons
🕒 3 min read | 📰 News| 💡 Why it matters

bp’s head of North Sea has praised the resilience and determination of the team in bringing a 30-million-barrel field online safely – despite the challenges of COVID-19.


Vorlich is the second North Sea fast-paced, high-return subsea tieback to come onstream in as many years, following the successful start-up of Alligin, west of Shetland, in 2019.


Emeka Emembolu said: “In just two short years, bp and our partner, Ithaca Energy, have pulled out all the stops to rapidly bring Vorlich online against a highly challenged backdrop. My sincere thanks and admiration go to all involved for overcoming many hurdles to reach this fantastic milestone.”


The field has been developed through two wells with peak production expected to reach 20,000 barrels oil equivalent gross per day. Vorlich hydrocarbons are processed through Ithaca’s FPF-1 floating production facility, located around 240 kilometres east of Aberdeen.


“This is bp’s new strategy at play and the latest chapter in our resilient hydrocarbons story  ̶  a great example of the fast-payback, high-return projects the company is focused on.” 


Emeka Emembolu, senior vice president, North Sea 


bp and partner Ithaca Energy invested £230 million to develop the field, which was discovered in 2014 and received regulatory approval for development in 2018. 


It is the third of five major bp projects expected to start up in 2020, contributing to the global target to deliver 900,000 barrels per day from major projects by the end of 2021. 

Offshore construction work showing Ithaca Energy’s FPF-1 floating production facility

Innovative partnership

bp and Ithaca each played to their strengths to bring Vorlich to life.

  • Ithaca installed the subsea infrastructure and executed the modifications on the FPF-1 in order to receive and process the Vorlich hydrocarbons.
  • bp operated the field through the development phase, drilling the wells and installing the wellheads.


Shortly before start-up, operatorship switched to Ithaca, who will oversee the production phase of the development.


Vorlich now becomes an operated by others (OBO) asset in bp’s North Sea portfolio, capable of delivering significant value through our 66% interest.

Vorlich’s location 240 kilometres east of Aberdeen in the Central North Sea

“With industry in lockdown and an ever-decreasing summer work window, it was hard to remain upbeat around the chances of bringing Vorlich online this year. Despite this, we dug deep, pulling out all the stops to turn things around.”


Stuart Johnstone, bp Central North Sea tiebacks project manager

Overcoming challenges

Earlier this year, before the scale of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was known, the Vorlich project team was on the home straight, targeting first production in September, as planned.


However, lockdowns and travel and work restrictions stopped them in their tracks.


Stuart Johnstone, bp Central North Sea tiebacks project manager, explains: “It goes without saying that all the decisions taken in response to COVID were absolutely necessary to protect the health and wellbeing of our colleagues on the project.


“But, with industry in lockdown and an ever-decreasing summer work window, it was hard to remain upbeat around the chances of bringing Vorlich online this year. Despite this, we dug deep, pulling out all the stops to turn things around.”

💡 Why it matters

Delivered in partnership with Ithaca Energy under extraordinarily difficult conditions, Vorlich demonstrates bp’s commitment to resilient, focused hydrocarbons, which are essential to fuelling our transformation into an integrated energy company.


Vorlich is also the latest in a programme of fast-paced, high-return, subsea tiebacks.


This is when a new oil or gas discovery is connected to existing infrastructure, making the start-up of production from the well quicker and with fewer emissions than assets that require new processing facilities.

Umbilical cablingthat provides controls, power and chemicals between the Vorlich field and FPF-1. In all, 10 kilometres were laid

Subsea installation for the project was completed in September this year

North Sea focus

Vorlich follows the successful start-up in late-2019 of Alligin, another North Sea tieback west of Shetland producing through the Glen Lyon floating production, storage and offloading vesssel. In the Central North Sea, further tiebacks, including Seagull and Murlach, are in the works.

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