Developing more than 200 ‘small’ pools of oil in the ageing North Sea basin offers a potential double-bonus for Scotland’s economy.
This was a key message yesterday to MSPs on the Scottish parliament’s cross party group on oil and gas from Colette Cohen, Chief Executive of the newly-opened £180 million Oil and Gas Technology Centre in Aberdeen.
First, she explained that ‘small pools’ is a relative term for untapped oilfields which can include substantial reserves that have not (yet) been taken forward into oil production, either for historic lack of technology to reach them, and/or because hitherto it has not been economically feasible to do so.
Secondly, Cohen said the OGTC is focussing on tapping some 200 ‘small pools’ in the N. Sea by a combination of driving down costs and sharing historic data and know-how in combination with new advances in robotics and information technology.
She added: “And thirdly, we aim to anchor the oil and gas supply chain in Grampian to help export Scottish supply-chain know-how round the world.
“Globally, there are more than 600 ‘small pools’ in other established oil basins and – if we can crack our own small pools in the North Sea – this represents a major potential exports markets for our know-how.”
The OGTC is also working on two other key strategic outcomes – to share best-practice knowledge and know-how to drive down average decommissioning costs of £1 billion-per-platform while exploiting new advances in remote-working technology.
And Cohen urged the oil and gas industry to ‘get a move on’ with decommissioning. She said:
“Decommissioning is happening now – we can’t just sit around waiting for someone to fire the starting pistol.
“The industry spent £1 billion on decommissioning in 2015 and twice that in 2016. But there are more than 40 plug-and-abandon wells – with an approximate commercial market value of £40 billion – coming on stream from now onwards.
“By working with the operators, we aim to reduce costs by at least 50%. We won’t solve all of the challenges facing us in the N. Sea – but if we can solve some of them, we’ll be taking big steps towards maximising economic recovery and extend the working life of the basin.”