‘Let’s go Dutch’ call to maximise gas production in southern North Sea

Eric Marston
Eric Marston

The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has published a new blueprint to maximise the economic recovery of ‘tight gas’ from the southern North Sea.

The new plan comes as it was revealed that standardised working practices, regulations and shared resources for the UK and Netherlands would bring much-needed savings and operational excellence in the same part of the basin.

The OGA conservatively estimates there are some 3.8 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of remaining gas accessible in the southern North Sea, including infill opportunities, undeveloped discoveries and prospects.

However, tight gas reservoirs have often been disregarded as high cost and high risk, with licence holders tending to focus instead on less complex developments with lower costs and higher recovery factors.

The OGA’s new Southern North Sea Tight Gas Strategy has been developed to help stimulate greater use of technology and collaboration to overcome these barriers and to maximise economic recovery of the remaining resources.

Eric Marston, OGA Area Manager for the Southern North Sea and East Irish Sea, said: “Maximising recovery of tight gas represents a real opportunity to extend the life of the Southern North Sea’s existing infrastructure, including the development of marginal fields and potentially the redevelopment of existing fields.

“There’s a lot of energy in the southern sector right now with operators collaborating on some great projects to bring new developments to market. We’ve also been working closely with industry via the East of England Energy Group which in turn has been actively supporting the tight gas agenda.”

Martijn Hoefsloot, production superintendent at Orange Nassau Energie, said the southern North Sea was a “small basin with relatively simple operations” – but  questioned why there were different working practices each side of the border of the UK-Dutch border.

“The regulator needs to be involved in this small basin,” he told oil and gas chiefs at a recent industry conference. “The business message is for smarter UK-Netherlands operations and to share with, collaborate and talk to each other – ask each other if anyone needs equipment.”

“Many companies wanted to collaborate but legal applications and frameworks got in the way,” he added.

Hoefsloot also said that the UK’s asset duty holder model was an example of the ‘polarised’ Anglo-Dutch styles.

He said: “Duty Holders don’t exist in the Netherlands, where the operator is fully responsible for an asset.Organisation, collaboration and sharing must be looked at seriously now.”

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