The offshore N. Sea oil and gas industry is currently facing a perfect storm of rising production costs, falling oil prices and ageing facilities that require increasingly expensive maintenance.
To tackle some of the problems, a new project led by Total E&P UK and Amec Foster Wheeler – which could unlock £1 billion of revenue through improved production efficiency and cost savings – has been set up under the direction of the Technology Leadership Board.
The new project seeks to ensure that inspection and maintenance is quicker, easier and cheaper to carry out which will translate into less production downtime in the N. Sea.
The project will target advances in process vessel inspection and managing corrosion under insulation.
It is the result of partnership working between the Technology Leadership Board, Oil & Gas UK, Oil & Gas Authority, Oil & Gas Innovation Centre (OGIC) and Industry Technology Facilitator (ITF).
The first phase of the project will map out all the existing technologies and companies for maintenance and inspection. It will also identify relevant technologies and processes that are new or not used offshore. This phase of the project will report back in February 2016.
Secondly, the project will benchmark with other industries to consider ways in which services can be combined so that the work is carried out in a logical, quicker and therefore cheaper manner. It will also propose the introduction of new products and services to lower costs and/or improve safety.
Over the last 10 years the average UKCS production efficiency has fallen from 80% to 60% as assets age. Process vessel inspection is a significant contributor to production downtime during a shutdown and often involves personnel entry into confined spaces, which poses a major risk to safety.
The project will target new and existing techniques and technology to significantly reduce process vessel inspection times in order to improve overall production efficiency and reduce the risk to personnel from entering process vessels.
Jeremy Cutler, Head of Technology Innovation at Total E&P UK, said: “By using the best technology and innovation available we play to our strengths and give ourselves the best chance to ensure a bright future for the offshore industry.”
Andy Ewens, Director of Operations at Amec Foster Wheeler, said: “The two initiatives we are focussing on now provide opportunities to make a tangible impact in the short term and provide the basis for addressing the myriad of asset integrity issues that we have to face as an industry.”
Ian Phillips, Chief Executive of OGIC, said: “This project directly responds to the maximising economic recovery agenda for the UKCS and involves the targeting of resources on specific challenges that can influence production efficiency, reduce costs and improve safety. “