Iain Hutchison, Managing Director of Perth-based oil-well engineering consultancy Merlin ERD, has warned that much of the cost crisis in the North Sea can be solved if the Government encourages oil companies to look “outside the box” and apply innovative solutions from overseas.
Merlin ERD Limited is independent well engineering consultancy, specialising in extended reach drilling. He claims Merlin ERD has the key to unlock cost reductions which will protect jobs and make North Sea oil more competitive. Hutchison said:
“Over the past seven years, we have developed innovative extended reach drilling technologies which have enabled oil companies to extract oil from places previously thought impossible to reach. This solution has been deployed on a global scale and could provide a vital lifeline for the North Sea wells.
“Extended reach drilling can lower drilling costs, extend field life and increase ultimate recovery of our hydrocarbon reserves. Our technology can exploit reservoirs at 12km and beyond from the wellhead position, often without prohibitively expensive subsea equipment.”
“Clever engineering allows existing infrastructure (platforms) to tap stranded reserves on the periphery of their reserves. In true “can-do” approach, our engineers have repeatedly impressed me with their ingenuity at reducing drilling risk, time and cost to exploit hydrocarbon reserves. I’ve lost count of the number of supposedly ‘impossible wells’ that we have delivered.
“At the moment we stand on a dangerous precipice – politicians are debating while Rome – or should I say in this case, Aberdeen – burns. If we lose the fantastic infrastructure that has been built over the past decades it will be lost for a generation and it will be impossible to make up the lost ground.
“In a recent report to Scottish Government, it was estimated the value to the UK of exploiting difficult-to-reach oil could range from $250 biliion to $1.2 trillion. If platforms become redundant and offline, a fortune in untapped fuel will be lost. Billions of barrels of oil could be left in the ground.
“Even before chasing new fields where the payback is much longer, there is a huge opportunity to fully capitalise upon the untapped reserves adjacent to the existing infrastructure. We have only seen the tip of the iceberg in job losses with the inevitable reduction in tax income on which our local services rely.”