Crude oil price collapse drives innovation in North Sea


Ian Phillips
Ian Phillips

A total of 100 individual technology businesses have contacted the Oil and Gas Innovation Centre in Aberdeen for help since its formal launch last year – 18 technology innovation projects are currently in discussion and four projects have been approved with the first project now complete.

 OGIC’s main focus is on technologies that will assist in the recovery of reserves in the North Sea, with the main priorities being innovations relating to: improving exploration outcomes; well construction, drilling and completions; enhanced oil recovery; asset integrity and life extension; shale gas exploitation; subsea; product optimisation and decommissioning.

Chief Executive Ian Phillips said that the 50% collapse in crude oil price since autumn 2014 had served to reinforce the need to accelerate innovation within the industry. He said:

“We have had strong interest from industry. The drop in the oil price has cast challenges facing the industry into sharp relief, increasing the need for us to work smarter and more efficiently.

“Technological innovation will be key to maximising the recovery of reserves in the UKCS and by accelerating the development of near to market technologies we aim to support innovations that cumulatively address the exploration, production and decommissioning challenges in the North Sea.

“By supporting collaboration between SMEs and the academic resources that exist in Scotland we can accelerate the delivery of new technologies to market. Our initial projects are demonstrating the logic of this approach and we anticipate that industry as a whole will increasingly look to near to market technologies as it seeks to work more efficiently.”

The first OGIC supported project that has completed involved the testing of an innovative well intervention solution and saw Hydrasun partner with Strathclyde University. Hydrasun provides integrated fluid transfer, power and control solutions to the energy, petrochemical, marine and utilities industries worldwide.

Ernie Lamza, chief operating officer at OGIC, said: “Production efficiency is an area where significant improvements can be made in the North Sea. The collaboration that we facilitated and supported between Hydrasun and Strathclyde enabled testing of a new technology to accelerate qualification activities and open dialogue with potential end users.”

Ben Coutts, 
Director, Engineering and Research & Development, Hydrasun, commented: “The funding process with OGIC proved to be incredibly quick and responsive and made the whole process very easy. OGIC was an effective and efficient partner supporting Hydrasun to develop this technology.”

Dr James Wood, of the University of Strathclyde’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, said: “Innovative design in flexible composite construction presents significant challenges, both in experimentation and simulation. However, the facilities and expertise we have at Strathclyde proved to be an excellent match for the initial qualification stages of this new product.

“This has led to a fundamental understanding of the construction’s complex mechanical behaviour. This fascinating research project with Hydrasun and OGIC has also generated further development ideas and practical projects for our final year Masters students, which is invaluable both for their career prospects and for our engagement with industry.”

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