The UK North Sea’s Industry Technology Facilitator is primed to play a leading role in the generation of new oil&gas sector technologies worldwide by drawing together counterpart organisations from North America, Norway and Brazil at a summit in Aberdeen this week.
By working together, ITF chief executive Neil Poxon hopes to unleash the real power of collective research and development funding totalling well over $50million per annum, of which the UK organisation now accounts for the largest chunk.
The summit will draw together a cadre of about 20 senior figures from the US Deepstar and REPSEA programmes; Norway’s Demo and OG21 initiatives, plus government; the UK Government and ITF, and Petroleum Research Atlantic Canada (PRAC) and Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada (PTAC), which represent the funding bodies for onshore and offshore, plus government. Brazil is interested but can’t attend this time.
The summit takes place on October 6-8.
“This is high level and there are huge benefits to be gained by trying to do it,” Poxon told Energy.
“The key objective is to provide more added value to all of our members, many of which are common across the different organisations.
“Even just understanding the models and being aware of what each programme is doing and current areas of focus would be of immense benefit; and, on the due diligence side, making sure there are no overlaps.
“Our members keep asking us whether we’re working with these other programmes and how do we know there’s no duplication. We’ve always communicated with them, but this is more formal. We’re asking the various programmes to arrive at the meeting pre-prepared, and having signalled that content to us beforehand so we can be properly prepared. We want to focus the meeting on questions such as, what are the common denominators, how might a model work, how is the process geared up and what are the one or two things that we can focus on in truly making a difference and moving forward?”
Poxon wants to see a global workshop hosted by one or more members of the collective next year.
What has enabled ITF to lead the way is the clout of its budget – six times that of Deepstar, which is regarded as especially high-profile because of its deepwater Gulf of Mexico focus – and relative autonomy.
Poxon said: “What’s emerging with ITF is the scope of our remit. Everywhere we go, especially at overseas conferences, the scope and breadth of what we’re covering and the quality of the projects is now quite incredible.
“We have 30 or so ongoing projects but, with the 18/19 proposals that have been received this year, it’s getting more and more difficult to reject any because the quality is there, and we’re getting two-thirds in most calls for proposals coming from new developers.
“ITF is emerging as a global organisation with no restrictions, which is how we were set up anyway. But the other programmes generally have some form of restriction. Procap is very focused on Brazil, Deepstar is subsea deepwater, Demo is for Norway, and so on.
“We’re operating globally. I don’t think any of the other programmes are able to offer that, which is why they’re looking to ITF to co-ordinate this initiative.”
Elaborating on the push for co-operation, Poxon said he would be looking for the positives at this week’s summit.
“For example, technologies that come to ITF may not be suitable for whatever reason and don’t attract member funding. They may be better suited to one of the other bodies, such as Deepstar or Demo. Likewise, a project could come to Demo but could be better suited to being worked in a different way.
“The idea of bouncing proposals off each other and sharing information and trying to ascertain which is the best programme to take a particular proposal forward is potentially of huge value.”