New Technologies Could Unlock Additional 400M Barrels of Oil and Gas

Tie-back of the future

New technologies which could make marginal fields and ‘small pools’ economically viable could generate an additional £3 billion on the UK Continental Shelf according to Wood Mackenzie.

The UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) may contain up to 3.4 billion barrels of oil and gas in marginal fields, or ‘small pools’, which have not yet been economic to exploit.

Wood Mackenzie has identified that the Oil and Gas Technology Centre’s Tie-back of the Future initiative, which aims to half the cost and time required to develop these small pools, could make it economically feasible to open up an additional 400 million barrels.

The initiative brings together 25 operators, supply-chain firms and technology developers to transform the approach to developing these marginal fields by designing subsea equipment designed for disassembly and reuse.

To date, the Technology Centre has invested £250,000 in engineering activity to develop the initiative, five technology projects are underway, 13 technology proposals are in the pipeline and six integrated studies have been completed.

Industry Support

The OGTC is now looking for industry support from operating and supply chain companies to make the Tie-back of the Future a reality.

According to the OGTC, approximately 10% of the world’s small pools can be found on the UKCS and with 27 billion barrels in small pools globally, there is huge potential to take solutions developed here to other marginal fields, driving international growth and export opportunities.

Chris Pearson, Small Pools Solution Centre Manager at the Oil & Gas Technology Centre, 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. We’re delighted that Wood Mackenzie has recognised the significance of our work with industry to unlock value on the UKCS.

“Some of the ideas and early-stage technologies out there are really interesting. We are seeing developments in mechanical hot taps, mechanically connected pipelines, multi-use pipelines, the integration of renewable energy systems and unmanned facilities. These solutions could transform the development of small pools and extend the economic life of the North Sea.”

Global Potential

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.

“The UK industry, with the Technology Centre’s backing, is at the forefront of these new technologies. Approaches taken here will be much-watched and learned from around the globe.”

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