With increasing pressure on the industry to find economically viable ways to develop marginal oil fields in the UK North Sea, the National Subsea Research Initiative is to help the industry adopt a collaborative and integrated approach to exploit the potential of untapped ‘small pools’ (oil and gas reserves of less than 50 million boe).
As the technology arm of Subsea UK, NSRI will hold a workshop at Subsea Expo 2017 next month to highlight the work that has been done to maximise economic recovery from small pool developments across the North Sea.
Industry experts will also showcase their involvement and provide a platform to discuss the next steps, looking at what is required to unlock reserves that have previously been deemed uneconomic.
The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) recently announced that approximately 350 discoveries containing more than three billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe) remain un-tapped in the N. Sea. Most of these small pools are close to existing platforms but some are stranded and will require new standalone drilling facilities.
Peter Blake, Chairman of NSRI and Subsea Systems manager for Chevron’s UK Energy Technology company, commented: “These discoveries, while economically challenged, represent a significant potential to extend the economic life of the N. Sea basin.
“There are a myriad of challenges; from stranded pools distant from infrastructure, to fluids incompatible with potential hosts and complex ownership structures.
“However, what is common to them all is that they need new ways of thinking, the application of new technologies and greater collaboration to develop economic solutions. To safeguard our industry we need to kick-start these developments.
“Often conventional solutions prove too costly or unsuitable for marginal fields, so smarter engineering combined with better ways to manage technical and economic risk is required.
“If the subsea industry can rise to this challenge of economically tapping into these pools, the North Sea could have a whole new lease of life.”
Carlo Procaccini, Head of Technology at the OGA, added: “Following an extensive mapping exercise, we now know exactly where these small pools are located and we are working with NSRI and others to change the existing industry paradigms to unlock their potential.
“Technology development is key to small pools cost reduction, from reducing the cost of development wells to designing optimised subsea infrastructure and tie-backs to existing host facilities or efficient standalone concepts.
“Exploited successfully, the recoverable oil and gas held in small pools offer a significant MER opportunity and could represent a new chapter for the North Sea.
The session will also include speakers from the OGA, EnQuest, Oil and Gas Technology Centre and Technip.