Scots MP hails progress in exploiting 350 ‘small pool’ N. Sea oil fields as new MER rules require operators to deposit samples from new discoveries in national ‘oil bank’

'Small pools' offer big prospects for new North Sea oil production
‘Small pools’ offer big prospects for new North Sea oil production

A Scottish MP has hailed the importance of government investment in developing the technology to extract oil from about 350 undeveloped marginal ‘small-pool’ discoveries in the North Sea.

West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP Andrew Bowie tabled a parliamentary question asking what assessment BEIS has made of the economic potential of small pools of oil and gas in the mostly-Scottish North Sea oil and gas sector.

In response, Energy Minister Claire Perry said that the Oil and Gas Authority estimates there are more than three billion barrels of oil equivalent in the 350 marginal discoveries, many of which are ‘small pools’ that so far have been ‘uneconomical’ to develop.

She said that the government “recognises that innovative solutions will be required to help unlock the potential and maximise economic recovery”.

The minister also added that work is ongoing to explore technological solutions such as optimised subsea infrastructure that could help to reduce the cost of developing small pools.

Bowie said: “These small pools of oil and gas have, up until now, been uneconomic to develop.

“However, through technological advances and innovative techniques, the Scottish and UK economy could yet see the benefits from these hard to reach areas.

“There is certainly plenty of life left in the North Sea, and the skills and innovative technologies that have been developed here in the north-east of Scotland will be in demand all over the world.

“Indeed, Westhill in my constituency has long been regarded as the global centre of excellence for the subsea sector.

“With continued government support, this is an industry that can go from strength to strength.”

Meanwhile, new rules to create a national ‘data vault’ to preserve new oil field samples from all North Sea production companies have come into force.

The ‘retention’ requirements – specify what categories and classes of information and samples industry will be required to retain and for how long.

These new Retention of Information and Samples Regulations fulfil provisions in the Energy Act 2016 to support the maximum economic recovery of North Sea oil – no matter which operator owns it – through greater access to timely and transparent data, necessary for a competitive market.

Nic Granger, director of Corporate at the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) explained: “Information and oil samples play a significant role in the UK oil and gas industry.

“Access to high quality data by the OGA and industry will help deliver more effective and efficient ways to maximise economic recovery across the oil and gas lifecycle.”

17 May 2018

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