Scottish energy researchers to work on new N. Sea oil field evaluation tool

Ian Phillips
Ian Phillips

Technology which could significantly reduce the cost of evaluating subsea hydrocarbon deposits is to be developed at Glasgow University in collaboration with Badger Explorer and the Oil & Gas Innovation Centre (OGIC).

The Badger Explorer technology has been developed with the backing of a number of major operating companies including Chevron, CNPC, ExxonMobil, Shell, Statoil and Wintershall.

The Badger Explorer technology is a rig-less formation and reservoir evaluation tool.  The device drills down to the target reservoir, compacting and ejecting the drill spoil at the back end of the device using an ultrasonic compactor.

The sensors continuously record data and provide long-term monitoring of the formation. Once the required reservoir target has been evaluated, the Badger Explorer is left permanently underground.

Aberdeen-based OGIC has paired the company with the University of Glasgow which will assist them in carrying out research into ensuring the drill spoil is effectively and reliably compacted for subsurface penetration to continue.   Researchers within the university will develop and test the high pressure high temperature (HPHT) ultrasonic transducer component which will be utilised within the Badger Explorer.

Ian Phillips, OGIC Chief Executive, said: “This technology could have a huge impact in the North Sea by reducing reservoir evaluation costs and therefore contributing to the goal of maximising economic recovery in the basin.

A key component of the technology will now be developed and tested in conjunction with researchers at the University of Glasgow bringing this potentially game-changing product to market. The Badger Explorer gives industry the prospect of carrying a full package of logging sensors, at a substantial lower risk, cost and complexity compared to using a conventional drilling rig.

Phillips added: “The fact that the R&D capabilities required for this element of the project are within the University of Glasgow is testament to the enormous oil and gas related expertise that we have as a country, which OGIC aims to harness in support of the energy sector’s future.”

Professor Margaret Lucas, who leads the ultrasonics group in the School of Engineering at the University of Glasgow, said: “We have recently made significant investments in new staff and equipment to strengthen our ultrasonics research team and diversify our range of applications.

“Working with Badger Explorer demonstrates the industrial demand for our skills, taking our high power ultrasonics research into oil and gas exploration. The group’s diverse expertise and research activities extend from ultrasonic surgical devices which could be used for a bone biopsy, to an ultrasonic drill for planetary sample retrieval.

“The Badger Explorer project requires us to design a compactor and the high power ultrasonic transducer driving it. The harsh operating conditions of high pressure and temperature will be a real challenge for us. The support from OGIC is vital for tackling the research challenges, and enabling further development of Badger’s novel rig-less exploration technology.”

Sakalima Sikaneta, R&D manager at Badger ASA, said: “By co-funding this work, OGIC has created an opportunity for Badger Explorer ASA to benefit from the world-class expertise of researchers at the University of Glasgow.

“We are confident the results of this project will lead to accelerated development of our Badger Explorer tool and related spin-off technologies that will extend and improve how our industry operates in the North Sea and globally”.

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