New subsea technology could generate £3 billion from untapped North Sea ‘small pools’

The EC-OG Subsea Power Hub is an example of the technology being developed to unlock small pools
The EC-OG Subsea Power Hub is an example of the technology being developed to unlock small pools

Developing new subsea technology and approaches to field developments could help unlock 400 million additional barrels of oil and gas and generate £3 billion of additional value from the North Sea.

There are 3.4 billion barrels of oil and gas potential discovered in marginal fields, or ‘small pools’. And  at current oil prices, 1.5 billion barrels in these small pools are potentially economic.

The Tie-back of the Future initiative from the Aberdeen-based Oil and Gas Technology Centre (OGTC) aims to half the cost and half the time to develop small pools – would make an additional 400 million barrels economic.

The initiative brings together 25 operators, supply chain firms and technology developers to transform the approach to developing marginal fields. Creating a circular economy, whereby subsea equipment is designed for disassembly and reuse, is at the heart of the initiative.

The OGTC has invested £250,000 in engineering activity to develop the initiative and five technology projects are underway; 13 technology proposals are in the pipeline and six integrated studies have been completed.

The UKCS has around 10% of the world’s small pools and with 27 billion barrels in small pools globally, there is huge potential to take solutions developed here to other basins with marginal fields, driving international growth and export opportunities.

Chris Pearson, Small Pools Solution Centre Manager for the Oil & Gas Technology Centre, said: “Small pools represent a big prize for the economy but they each have their own challenges.

“The Tie-back of the Future concept is making significant strides to making more of these fields economically viable. We’re delighted that Wood Mackenzie has recognised the significance of our work with industry to unlock value in the North Sea

“Some of the ideas and early-stage technologies out there are really interesting. We are seeing developments in mechanical hot taps, mechanically connected pipelines, multi-use pipelines, the integration of renewable energy systems and unmanned facilities. These solutions could transform the development of small pools and extend the economic life of the North Sea.”

Mhairidh Evans, Principal Analyst for Wood Mackenzie, added: “At current exploration rates, it would take 14 years and 500 wells to find the same volumes that have already been discovered in small pools.

“As a mature basin, these barrels can no longer be ignored. As well as providing much-needed new investment, unlocking small pools is key to extending the life of existing infrastructure.”

Enpro Subsea team members
Enpro Subsea team members

Meanwhile, Aberdeen-based Enpro Subsea has won a major export contract to support Tullow Oil exploration activities in Ghana with the installation of up to 15 of its patented flow access modules by the end of next year.

Enpro Subsea recently secured investment from EV Private Equity to expand its production optimisation business into new and existing international markets.

12 Feb 2018

Pixie Energy

Pixie logo Pixie Energy is an incubator and a facilitator of strategic research and project work, focusing on energy regulation, policy and markets at the local and national level. Find out more about Pixie Energy here.

Local Energy Matters: Scotland

Local Energy Matters: Scotland is a free-to-download brochure with a focus on energy tariffs in the two Scottish electricity distribution regions, as well news on local energy and low-carbon schemes.

Previous editions can be download here.

Scottish energy market overview

You can read an overview of the Scottish energy market here.

Scottish Government energy feed