How to get ahead in oil and gas
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How to get ahead in oil and gas

Nicola Gordon is spearheading the development of Bangchak and Okea's Draugen petroleum field in Norway

Mrs Gordon, left, along with Mr Chaiwat, centre, and Svein Liknes, chief executive of Okea.
Mrs Gordon, left, along with Mr Chaiwat, centre, and Svein Liknes, chief executive of Okea.

The Draugen petroleum field in Norway is helping energy conglomerate Bangchak Corporation Plc (BCP) strengthen its position in the upstream oil and gas business as well as highlighting its efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Behind the successful operation at Draugen is Nicola Gordon, who sits on the board of directors of Okea ASA, the oil and gas drilling company which operates Draugen.

BCP is a major shareholder in Okea, having acquired a 45.7% share in the Oslo Stock Exchange-listed firm in 2018.

Okea is a mid-to-late-life operator on the Norwegian continental shelf. The company is committed to minimising the carbon footprint from production under its decarbonisation strategy to support a greenhouse gas emission reduction target of 50% by 2030, which has been set by the industry in Norway.

Mrs Gordon met Chaiwat Kovavisarach, chief executive of BCP and chairman of Okea, during his recent trip to Norway.

She previously worked at Royal Dutch Shell Group. She was vice-president for Shell International, asset manager and board director at A/S Norske Shell, and managing director at Shell Denmark.

Mrs Gordon is also a chartered engineer and fellow of the Energy Institute.

Speaking during a helicopter trip from Kristiansund, some 150 kilometres away, to Draugen, situated in the Norwegian Sea, Mrs Gordon described the work experience that formed her expertise in the petroleum industry.

What is your relationship with Draugen?

I have had the privilege to work with the Draugen field at many stages of my career. As a young engineer in Stavanger in the 1980s, I contributed to the design of the exploration well test which confirmed the discovery. I worked on flowline design during the feasibility stage of the project. And in 2003, I returned to Norway as an asset manager with responsibility for the Draugen field alongside the Brent field and onshore gas plants in the UK. Later, I joined the board of A/S Norske Shell, at that time an integrated Norwegian company both upstream, including Draugen, and downstream, part of the Shell group but with much in common with Bangchak. And then in 2020, I was delighted to be invited to serve on the board of Okea.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Today, I am proud of my three grown-up children and am a happy grandmother living in Scotland. Originally, I studied engineering at university in England and Scotland, and joined Shell International. I worked in many other countries including New Zealand, Denmark, the Netherlands and Gabon, for more than 30 years in total, latterly in senior leadership roles.

How does it feel to be back in this business on the Okea board?

It feels good to be a part of the continuing future of Draugen. I find it a very interesting new experience to be working with Mr Chaiwat and the team from Thailand and the other investors. I enjoy the pride felt by Norwegians and Thais alike in this co-operation.

And specifically, how does it feel to be back at Draugen?

One of the best parts of my career has always been the people I have been lucky enough to work with. It is excellent to meet former colleagues again and to see individuals I knew earlier on now progressing and taking up more responsible positions. And everyone associated with Draugen feels the special sense of pride.

Highlights of Draugen in your view?

The Draugen platform is uniquely designed to produce an outstanding field. At the time, Draugen achieved so many technical firsts, with the innovative use of concrete in the deep water, northerly location, and demanding weather conditions.

Some 30 years on, Draugen is an exceptionally well-maintained and successful platform. This is due in no small part to the exceptionally talented and dedicated people involved in all the different teams over the years.

Closer look at Draugen

The Draugen platform is unique for the monopod design that distinguishes it from other platforms, featuring a reinforced concrete shaft with integrated topside decks rising 270 metres from the seabed for strength and stability.

It was installed in 1993 in a Shell field which was previously expected to cease production by 2027. However, initial production yielded up to 200,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Okea, which assumed operatorship in 2018, brought with it a highly skilled team, and technology greatly improved the platform's performance, enabling production to be extended beyond 2035.

The company is also exploring new opportunities that will further extend the production of the field, most recently targeting production up to 2040.

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