North Sea investment levels are unsustainable and a more carefully targeted programme for maintaining assets in the region is needed, according to a top engineer.
Production output from the UK Continental Shelf has been reducing in recent years, with Oil & Gas UK figures showing maintenance of ageing infrastructure had impacted that production.
Despite record investment of around £13.5billion in the North Sea this year, 2013 has seen a high number of maintenance shut-ins for North Sea fields.
Ahead of a talk at Offshore Europe 2013, ABB Consulting engineer Philip Lawson said it was vital maintenance programmes were targeted to keep UKCS production targets up.
“There is no question the region can still be profitable for many years to come, but maintenance programmes must now be targeted very carefully in order to achieve those targets,” he said.
“There has been record investment in assets this year but it cannot continue at that rate if an acceptable ROI is to be achieved.
“Assets may be ageing but many of them are capable of safely reaching the end of their design life, particularly over the next two decades as activity in the North Sea slows down.
“It is possible, therefore, to target the right areas effectively – applying maintenance only to the right equipment and systems at the right time, and prioritising investment in areas that are most likely to fail.”
Output in the North Sea has been estimated at between 1.2 and 1.4million boed for 2013, down from 1.54m last year.
His comments were echoed by Andrew Gould during the plenary session at Offshore Europe, who warned that 2013 had seen one of the highest levels of North Sea shut-ins due to poor maintenance and infrastructure support.