New finds add to confidence over shelf life

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Opinion by Katy HeidenreichOperations optimisation manager, Oil & Gas UK

We’ve had encouraging exploration news recently with two exciting discoveries, Glendronach and Glengorm, proving that significant oil and gas resources still exist on the UK Continental Shelf.

News like this generates renewed confidence in the basin’s future as estimates indicate there’s 10-20 billion barrels of oil equivalent yet to recover. We’re getting better at improving the investment conditions to ensure we’re a competitive basin for new projects.

Last year we saw 13 approvals for new major projects which will develop new fields or consist of major field redevelopments – that’s more than in the last three years combined.

These will result in around £3.3 billion of new investment and will release more than 400 million barrels of oil equivalent of new production.

This establishes firm foundations for adding a new generation of productive life to the basin and doubling growth opportunities for the supply chain – as outlined in industry’s shared ambition for the future: Vision 2035.

Driving up well activity will help make that vision a reality and Oil & Gas UK’s (OGUK) Wells Forum has a vital role to play.

The forum brings together wells managers from across industry – operators and contractors – to discuss common issues and share good practice.

This group meets regularly to co-ordinate action and interact with key industry stakeholders including regulators and organisations like the International Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP).

The Forum has its roots in the Well Life Cycle Practices Forum, which emerged in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, with the remit to create a series of well life cycle integrity guidelines to promote best practice across the industry.

It continues to review these guidelines, ensuring they are updated to take account of emerging risks, changes in HSE regulation and the expectations set out in the regulator’s Maximising

Economic Recovery Strategy, which means unlocking investment to increase exploration, appraisal and development wells activity.

Through its competitive well delivery initiative, the forum focuses on helping the industry find more efficient and sustainable ways to drill.

It has several workstreams, which include the importance of right scoping – a process for delivering value-adding well concept designs.

Another workstream is focused on encouraging technical innovation – by connecting experts and expertise to share learning and experience.

OGUK will publish the first edition of the “Right-Scoping of Wells” guidelines this spring.

These capture industry’s wealth of experience in planning and designing wells, describing lean design principles that can be applied to any wells project, from exploration to decommissioning.

In the field of technical innovation, we are focused on extended reach drilling, which involves the directional drilling of long horizontal wells on the UKCS.

We connect technical experts with companies new to this technology so teams can get a head start when deploying new techniques in technically challenging projects.

In the past year we’ve seen a greater uptake of wells initiatives across the sector with our first ever Wells Conference, attracting over 150 wells professionals.

This continued energy, enthusiasm and support was also evident at our exploration conference where participants gained greater insight of lessons learnt from challenging drilling projects.

The forum’s determination to ensure knowledge is shared and applied will help industry’s ambition to add another generation of productive life to our basin in line with Vision 2035.

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