Large volume of small pools to be recovered in UK waters, report finds

Offshore staff

ABERDEEN, UK – Unsanctioned discoveries across the UK continental shelf contain more than 3 Bboe of undeveloped resources, according to the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA).

Most are “small pools,” categorized as less than 50 MMboe technically recoverable, and most are within tieback or extended-reach drilling distance from existing infrastructure.

Some of the pools, however, are farther and could therefore require standalone solutions for a development.

OGA undertook its research as part of the UK’s Technology Leadership Board’s (TLB) Small Pools Work Group, supported by the National Subsea Research Initiative (NSRI), Centrica, EnQuest, and the Industry Technology Facilitator.

Carlo Procaccini, OGA’s head of technology, said: “We recognize the challenges operators are facing to develop these marginal oil and gas accumulations. Small pools represent a very significant opportunity to maximize economic recovery (MER) from the UKCS.

“Technology has an important role to play to reduce the cost of development wells, design optimized subsea infrastructure to existing host facilities, and develop efficient standalone concepts.

“We are committed to working together with the industry, the TLB, and the new Oil and Gas Technology Centre which has dedicated one of their Solution Centres to unlock the small pools potential.”

OGA’s study follows a series of small pool themed “hackathons” last year, facilitated by the NSRI, in which around 100 companies participated.

Discussions generated more than 100 suggestions on technologies and efficiency measures that might provide development solutions.

Ideas short-listed for further screening were those that could reduce subsea tieback costs, including mechanical hot taps, mechanically connected pipelines and spooled pipeline products, and concepts for efficient standalone solutions such as subsea storage, unmanned production buoys and small, versatile floating facilities.

In parallel, Oil & Gas UK’s Efficiency Task Force examined potential for near-term efficiencies in subsea installations via simplified design and standardized equipment.

Dr. Gordon Drummond, project director of NSRI, said: “Small pools have a national importance in terms of achieving MER and they must be considered as an industry asset if they are to be capitalized upon.

“Following an extensive mapping exercise, we now know exactly where these small pools are located and what is required to unlock their potential. If the subsea industry can rise to the challenge of economically tapping into these pools, the North Sea could have a whole new lease of life.

“Technology is only part of the solution, the industry must be much more receptive to innovation – there must be a willingness to work more collaboratively on multi-field applications and on access to infrastructure.”


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