A new initiative aimed at unlocking 400million additional barrels of North Sea oil has been launched.
The Oil and Gas Technology Centre (OGTC) has teamed up with energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie (Woodmac) to pioneer the so-called Tie-back to the Future scheme.
About 3.5billion barrels of North Sea oil and gas is contained in “small pools”, but less than half of that total would be economic to produce at current crude prices.
The initiative from OGTC and Woodmac aims to cut development costs and lead times in half, which would make 400million additional barrels economic and generate £3billion of additional value.
Twenty-five operators, supply chain firms and technology developers have signed up to take part, while the OGTC has invested £250,000 to date.
Five technology projects are under way, 13 proposals are in the pipeline and six integrated studies have been completed.
Designing subsea equipment which can be easily disassembled and reused is at the heart of the scheme.
Chris Pearson, small pools solution centre manager for the OGTC, said: “Small pools represent a big prize for the UK economy but they each have their own challenges.
“The Tie-back of the Future concept is making significant strides to making more of these fields economically viable.”
Mhairidh Evans, principal analyst for Wood Mackenzie, said: “At current exploration rates, it would take 14 years and 500 wells to find the same volumes that have already been discovered in small pools.
“As a mature basin, these barrels can no longer be ignored. As well as providing much-needed new investment, unlocking small pools is key to extending the life of existing infrastructure.”