Unlocking untapped oil reserves in small pools in the UK North Sea could land as a $20 billion prize for the oil and gas industry according to a senior executive.
Matt Nicol, director production and non operated assets at Centrica, told delegates at Subsea Expo in Aberdeen there are more than 210 locked small pools in UK waters holding more than 1 billion barrels of oil.
Opeators Centrica and EnQuest are acting as technology champions for a “small pool” push and have worked to create a robust business case to pursue the technological advances required to ensure cost effective ways of tapping these reserves.
Nicol said the challenge was to reduce the cost of development by 50%.
He said: “If they could be made economic, the prize of unlocking these small pools would be $20billion of capital investment and in excess of 1 billion barrels of oil in the UKCS.”
“These are huge numbers.”
Small pools have been defined as stranded, discovered oil or gas fields within the UKCS containing less that 15 million barrels of oil equivalent.
Nicol said that small pools are not developed in isolation. Their development would extend the life of many of our existing assets. Incredibly important and entwined in exploration and mature stage of late life assets.
“It goes without saying it would have a significant positive impact on the supply chain, jobs in Aberdeen, the north east of Scotland and the rest of the UK.”
Hackathon events – one in London and one in Aberdeen – last November brought together 160 experts from the supply chain, academia and government to come up with ideas to unlock the pools and included techological solutions as well as collaborative efficiencies, strategic initiatives and long-term research projects.
Nicol said: “We want to engage with academia and universities – we might not see this technology until 10 years from now, but if we don’t start these today, the technologies will probably never be developed.
“2016 is an incredibly important period as we start process of bringing these technologies closer to the market.”