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Norfolk Business Awards 2018

Take a virtual tour of the gas rig off the Norfolk coast which heats 1.5 million homes

PUBLISHED: 15:04 14 August 2018 | UPDATED: 15:04 14 August 2018

The view across the bridge between the platforms of the Cygnus Alpha gas fields. Picture: Neptune/Cygnus.

The view across the bridge between the platforms of the Cygnus Alpha gas fields. Picture: Neptune/Cygnus.

Archant

Nearly 100 miles from the Norfolk coast, in the unforgiving Southern North Sea, the Cygnus gas field is a place that only a few hundred hardy souls have seen up close.

Until now, that is – as the gas platforms which serve as a home-away-from home for the offshore workers serving the field have been mapped using Google Street View technology, creating a behind-the-scenes tour believed to be the first of its kind.

You can explore the three Cygnus Alpha platforms - and even walk across the bridges linking them - by starting your tour above.

The Cygnus field is the largest single producing gas field in the North Sea, and brings enough gas ashore at Bacton in Norfolk to heat the equivalent of 1.5 million UK homes a year.

During the tour visitors can find out more about features of the rigs and hear from some of the workforce talk about their jobs and what life is like on a functioning gas platform. The platform includes 66 en-suite bedrooms, a gym and a cinema, while visitors can also take a virtual tour of areas such as the helipad, wellhead, control room, and leisure and restaurant spaces, and find out more about its role in the UK economy.

Workers on the helipad at one of the Cygnus Alpha platforms. Picture: Cygnus/NeptuneWorkers on the helipad at one of the Cygnus Alpha platforms. Picture: Cygnus/Neptune

The Cygnus field has been producing gas since December 2016 and, at its peak, contributes up to 8% of UK gas production.

It was the biggest discovery in the SNS for 30 years, and exports its gas via a new 55km-long connection to an existing pipeline, which comes ashore at the Bacton terminal.

READ MORE: Bacton gas terminal marks 50 years of keeping the UK warm

The feature was commissioned by platform operator Neptune Energy and its partner Spirit Energy.

Neptune said it had launched the feature to shine a light on the experiences of those working and living on a North Sea platform, and bring them to a worldwide audience. It is also promoting the tour to schools and colleges to encourage interest in oil and gas industry careers.

The bridge linking two of the platforms making up the Cygnus Alpha installation. Picture: Cygnus/NeptuneThe bridge linking two of the platforms making up the Cygnus Alpha installation. Picture: Cygnus/Neptune

Did you know? 10 facts about the Cygnus gas rig

• The Cygnus Alpha installation is in the southern North Sea - 95 miles from the nearest coast;

• The rig has been producing enough gas to heat the equivalent of 1.5 million UK homes since the first gas started flowing in December 2016;

• Discovered in 1988, Cygnus is the biggest discovery in the southern North Sea the last 25 years, and the largest single producing gas field in the whole UK sector;

Virtual tourists can take a look at the accommodation on offer for offshore workers. Picture: Cygnus/NeptuneVirtual tourists can take a look at the accommodation on offer for offshore workers. Picture: Cygnus/Neptune

• Cygnus has estimated gross reserves – what the industry calls “proved and probable reserves” – of approximately 635 billion cubic feet of gas;

• During construction the project generated £1.3bn for the UK economy, supporting 5,000 jobs across the UK supply chain;

• Cygnus consists of two installations – Alpha & Bravo. The Alpha installation has three platforms: one for drilling and extracting gas; one for processing and exporting it; and one for accommodation and support services;

• The accommodation platform can host 66 workers in hotel-style facilities that include en-suite bedrooms, a restaurant, a gym and a cinema;

• It exports gas via a new 55km connection to an existing pipeline, which ends at Bacton on the north Norfolk coast;

• The Cygnus gas field has an estimated production life of at least 20 years.

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