Centrica has said a project by a group of oil and gas companies to unlock small pools in the southern North Sea is progressing at pace.
Carla Riddell, SNS asset manager at Centrica, said that while it was still early days, she was encouraged by how quickly the group had formed.
It took just a couple of weeks to draw up the confidentiality agreements, which often take oil companies much longer to put together.
They are currently figuring out which role each company could perform.
Small pools are receiving a lot of attention from the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) and the new Oil and Gas Technology Centre.
About 350 unsanctioned discoveries containing more than 3billion barrels of oil are still in the UK continental shelf, and the two bodies are encouraging companies to collaborate to make sure those resources are not stranded forever.
Mr Riddell said: “The way to unlock small pools is by operators working together on campaigns and sharing costs.
“It only works if we’re willing to work together and share information. … We’re not allowing bureaucracy to stop us moving forward.”
She said the project was industry-led but that the OGA was offering advice on how to drive it forward.
Ms Riddell was speaking ahead of the annual Southern North Sea Conference and Exhibition in Norwich, where she is due to deliver a presentation.
The two-day conference finishes tomorrow.
She said Centrica was trying to push the boundary of the southern North Sea into the mid-North Sea High area as plays open up in the Carboniferous, which is beneath the Permian strata and has more complex geology.
Mid-North Sea High was one of the regions covered by a £20million, UK-Government-funded programme of seismic surveys aimed at reinvigorating drilling.
Ms Riddell said the knowledge Centrica had built up from the Cygnus and Pegasus projects would help with its plans to exploit the northern reaches of the gas basin.
Cygnus started production in December 2016 and is operated by Engie, while Pegasus was the region’s most north-westerly Carboniferous discovery when it was made in 2014.
Ms Riddell said: “Can we push the boundary of the southern North Sea further into mid-North Sea high area?
“We will use our knowledge from Cygnus and Pegasus to do that.
“Centrica understands the Cygnus field very well and the Pegasus discovery. We’re looking to drill further wells on it and move towards development, focusing on Carboniferous.”
And Ms Riddell said Centrica was not the only company motivated to exploit Carboniferous.
“Industry is now interested in unlocking these more challenging developments,” she said. “We understand carboniferous as an industry. We see the same rocks onshore and know a lot about it.
“It did not look attractive at first but now we understand it better and have better drilling techniques, so now it’s a prime target. Let’s get after it.”