The North Sea oil industry has been given a lesson on Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection.
Executives, geologists, operators, investors and developers were schooled on the subject at the Oil and Gas Authority’s Technology Forum in Aberdeen.
The booked out event drew more than 180 people, who were told that technology was “critical” to unlocking every last drop of oil held in the UK continental shelf (UKCS).
It comes ahead of the November deadline for the 30th licensing round, focussed on mature areas of the UKCS – some of which were last offered for licensing more than 40 years ago.
The November deadline is expected to bring about the most significant offshore round in recent decades.
And Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) operations director Gunther Newcombe said adapting technology to fit the remaining North Sea resources would be seen as a major factor in who is awarded what acreage.
He set the scene to the plenary session, when he said: “Do we have a lot of potential remaining in the UKCS still remaining? Absolutely yes.
“Another good backdrop to this is that production is up, hopefully 1.7million barrels of oil equivalent per day by the end of this year and also production efficiency is up to 73%.
“We’ve got 14 or so new developments coming on stream this year so it’s quite a vibrant UKCS here that we have in the 30th round.
“There’s still plenty of ‘yet-to’find- potential out there.
“And technology will be one of the key drivers to unlocking that potential.
“One of the things that the OGA wants to do is really drive technology into, not just exploration, but right through development and into production. And we will certainly be looking more and more at companies to engage with technology and apply and adapt technology in the UKCS.”
The 30th round ha\s more than 800 blocks on offer , equating to roughly six times the size of Wales.
In that space there is 140 discoveries on offer with around 2.3billion barrels of resource discovered in those areas.
And Newcombe said the OGA “expects technology” to be included in the applications for the round.
He said: “Part of the marking system for the licensing round will be about what technology you are going to offer, adapt and deploy.
“Seismic technology and imaging of the subsurface are obviously critical to reducing risk. Trying to get that well cost down is also incredible important.
“Geosteering is critically important. We are seen a lot of development in the Southern North Sea in that area in particular.
“And also adapting other technologies in the area of wells.
“So it’s about getting the cost in the right place and seeing your reservoirs and seeing your tracks.”
He added: “You need to tie back these things obviously so if you’ve got infrastructure there efficient tiebacks is important, looking at in a different way.
“For example hot taps to having different types of pipeline like spool pipelines for instance to try and get some of these tiebacks hooked up.
“Many of the discoveries are in the standalone environment so we need to look at in a different way rather than having these gold plated structures. Are there smaller things that we could use and adapt for smaller pools? Again, being versatile and being to able to adapt technology to the resource is really important.”
More than 35 exhibitors from SMEs to major service providers including PGS, Baker Hughes, a GE company, Amplus and Western Geco, showcased at the event in Aberdeen yesterday.
Chris Pearson, OGTC Small Pools Solution Centre Manager, added: “This is another first for the OGA and OGTC. We are working collaboratively with an innovative and supportive group of companies to make the license round a success.
“The showcase event highlighted how technology solutions can significantly lower the entire life-cycle cost for UKCS field developments. We can be both incremental and disruptive in our approach to how we deploy the solutions. This approach can make this stable and mature basin an attractive investment opportunity.”
Recommended for you
Read the latest opinion pieces from our Energy Voice columnists
- Opinion: EY’s Derek Leith on what to expect from the Budget
- Opinion: Carbon capture and storage – put the kettle on
- Opinion: Ensuring effective digital platforms in the energy sector
- Opinion: ‘We woke up to a very new climate reality when Donald Trump won the election’
- Opinion: The digital revolution is here, and oil and gas needs to catch up