‘Transformational change needed to get MER out of N. Sea’, says OGA chief as new Collaboration Boards are announced

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EXCLUSIVE by Scottish Energy News

The North Sea oil and gas industry needs to achieve ‘transformational change’ if it is to Maximise Economic Recovery from the maturing UKCS.

And Gunther Newcombe, Director of Exploration and Production at OGA, also warned the oil and gas sector that it needs much more collaboration if it is to master this challenge.

Speaking exclusively at the ’DELIVERING MER – The Issues’ conference, he said:

“Collaboration is king in the renewable energy sector. We just don’t have that in oil and gas. 

“For us, collaboration with – and between – operators is vital so that value is not lost.

“By sharing value, we can make the overall pie bigger for everyone and not just simply have to wait on the next big rise in crude oil prices to ‘fix’ today’s challenges on costs.

“And whilst the OGA is the industry regulator, we don’t just regulate. We also promote the industry, but investors need to know there’s something there worth investing in.

“So we need to manage our costs to achieve sustainability – while also changing the mind-set from ‘mature exploration’ to ‘frontier exploration’ in the High North Sea and, possibly, on the Western UK seaboard too.

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“And that mind-set may already be changing. For example, we’ve had a massive download – from more than 200 exploration companies – for our new seismic data in advance of the 29th Licensing Round due later this summer. This is twice the kind of demand we’ve seen in the past.

“There is a desire for change among many operators, but there are still too many who have ingrained commercial behaviours and an inability to embrace change.”

OGA MER board1So, to deliver Maximum Economic Recovery from the North Sea, OGA has set up a series of MER Boards to tackle pivotal issues where collaboration is needed. These MER Boards meet several times a year and report into the over-arching MER Forum, which is chaired by Andy Samuel, OGA Chief Executive.

Samuel warned that the MER Boards and Forum are not just quarter talking-shops; instead, tangible action and outcomes are required, he said.

Paul Goodfellow, Upstream Director, Shell UK, added: “There is too much at stake for MER not to work.


MER Exploration Board

Its aim is to revitalise exploration incentivise investment in the North Sea;  

Phil Kirk (Chrysaor)

Ron Roberts (Apache)

Ruud Zoon (GDF)

Tom Dreyer (Statoil)

Chuck Guderjahn (BP)

Roberto Cerro (ENI)

Kaj Hemmes (Shell)

Jon Parry (DONG)

Oonagh Werngren (OGUK)


OGA MER Board decommissioning spend speaks at 2024MER Decommissioning Board

Its aim is to establish a respected, stable & sustainable decommissioning industry, effectively minimising costs and maximising economic recovery through collaboration.

 It also seeks to deliver a  >35% cost reduction through campaigns and by working with the Technology Board on new solutions.

The total North Sea decommissioning market is estimated by OGA to be worth £47 billion by 2050, with the bulk of the spend committed by 2030, with the greatest annual spend of £3.5 billion forecast for 2024 (see chart, above)


John Pearson (Amec Foster Wheeler)

Colette Cohen (Centrica)

Paul Goodfellow (Shell)

Neil McCulloch  (EnQuest)

Terry Savage  (Global Energy Group)

Morten Kelstrup (Maersk)

Irene Hannah (Shell, Inventory Management)

Jules Schoenmakers (Shell, Well P&A)

Steve Duthie (Technip, Subsea Technology)

Susan Ingram (Centrica, Valves)

Ian Davidson (Score Group, Valves)

Mark Richardson (Apache, Culture & Behaviours)


MER Cost Efficiency Board

Its aim is to improve business process and everyday operations, and to develop simplified approaches and standardised solutions to deliver greater value.


Colette Cohen (Centrica)

Paul Goodfellow (Shell)

Neil McCulloch  (EnQuest)

Terry Savage (Global Energy Group)

Morten Kelstrup (Maersk)

Irene Hannah (Shell, Inventory Management)

Jules Schoenmakers (Shell, Well P&A)

Steve Duthie (Technip, Subsea Technology)

Susan Ingram (Centrica, Valves)

Ian Davidson (Score Group, Valves)

Mark Richardson (Apache, Culture & Behaviours)


MER Asset Management Board

Its aim is to improve asset management and integrity, increase production, reduce costs and deliver projects – within schedule and budget – along with EOR reserves


Bruce Price (BP)

Matt Nicol (Centrica)

Selma Hunter (Doosan Babcock)

Andrew Hyde (DEA)

Neil Gordon (Subsea UK)

Andrew Ferguson (Petrofac)

Steve Gardyn (Talisman Sinopec)

James Crawford (Wood Group PSN

Andy Leonard (OGUK)

Eric Henderson (Maersk)

Tim Martin (Ramboll)

Additional candidates: INEOS & EDF



MER Research and Development Board: key tasks

  • Undertake prioritised regional reviews to mitigate risks and facilitate delivery of opportunities
  • Infrastructures access: Build on HM Treasury infrastructure workstream output to deliver an improved infrastructure access plan
  • Undeveloped resources: Work with the Technology Board to reduce well costs and unlock value of discovered undeveloped resources

John Warrander (Addax)

Dominic Macklon (Conoco Phillips)

Vince Graham (OMV)

Cori Loegering (Apache)

Mike Smith (DONG)

Pete Jones (TAQA)

Neil McCulloch (Enquest)

Elisabeth Proust (TOTAL)

Craig May (Chevron)

Morten Kelstrup (Maersk)

Andy Leonard (OGUK)


MER Supply Chain and Exports Board: key tasks

  • Transform the relationship between operators and service companies, increasing trust and collaboration
  • Use supply-demand outlooks from key sources and other Boards to effectively prioritise and focus new or improved value-led, low-cost solutions
  • Strengthen supply chain and exports: Promote the UKCS supply chain and global exports working with BIS, OGUK, UKTI and Scottish Enterprise

Ali Talput (EnQuest)

Chris Bird (MOL)

Julian Rippiner (Shell)

Mark Richardson (Apache)

Brian James (Perenco)

Dave Stewart (WGPSN)

K Hoeing/G Ballard (SLB)

Terry Savage (Global Energy)

Barry Macleod (Bibby)

Dave Clark (Aker)

Alan Johnston (AMEC)

Paul Charlton (PDL)

Richard Male (Diamond)

Paul Alcock (Aceton)

Ken Cruickshank (OGUK)


MER Technology Board; key tasks

  • Small pools: Unlock economic recovery of 1.5 billion boe of discovered reserves by reducing costs by 30 to 50%
  • Wells: Reduce total well costs by 50% to increase drilling activity and develop resources
  • Asset integrity: Enhance asset inspection to improve production efficiency and reduce maintenance costs

Paul Goodfellow (Shell)

Colette Cohen (Centrica)

Neil McCulloch (EnQuest)

Elisabeth Proust (Total)

Dave Lynch (BP)

Crawford Anderson (Baker Hughes)

Andy Ewens (AMEC)

Charles Tavner (Magna)

Prof. John Underhill

Andy Leonard (OGUK)


Skills Board

To ensure a sustainable pool of skilled individuals is in place to support development strategies and the recovery process through effective collaboration


Kenny Dey (Archer)

Martin Ellins (Fearnley Procter Group)

Neil Gordon (Subsea UK)

Rick Graves (BP)

David Hainsworth (Total)

Gary Holman (Awilco Drilling)

Paul Lindop (Lin’terim Ltd)

Tom Milne, (OGUK)

Ray Riddoch (Nexen)

Simon Roddy (Shell)

John Taylor, Inter-Union Offshore Oil Committee (IUOOC)

William Wallace, Inter-Union Offshore Oil Committee (IUOOC) Unite


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