Unlocking Marginal Fields at Subsea Expo 2017

With increasing pressure on the industry to find economically viable ways to develop marginal oil fields in the UK North Sea and further afield, NSRI (National Subsea Research Initiative) is looking to help the industry adopt a collaborative and integrated approach to exploit the potential of untapped ‘small pools’ (oil and gas reserves less than 50 million boe).

As the technology arm of Subsea UK, NSRI will be hosting a workshop at Subsea Expo 2017 on Thursday 2nd February to highlight the work that has been done to maximise economic recovery from small pool developments across the UKCS. 

The event will welcome a host of industry experts to the stage to showcase their involvement and provide a platform to discuss the next steps, looking at what is required to unlock reserves that have previously been deemed uneconomic.

The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) recently announced that approximately 350 unsanctioned discoveries containing more than 3 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe) remain in the UKCS. It was discovered that the majority of small pools are in close proximity to existing infrastructure, however some are stranded and will require novel, standalone facilities.

Peter Blake, chairman of NSRI and Subsea Systems manager for Chevron’s UK Energy Technology company, commented: "These discoveries, while economically challenged, represent a significant potential to extend the economic life of the basin. There are a myriad of challenges; from stranded pools distant from infrastructure, to fluids incompatible with potential hosts and complex ownership structures. However, what is common to them all is that they need new ways of thinking, the application of new technologies and greater collaboration to develop economic solutions. To safeguard our industry we need to kick-start these developments. 

"Often conventional solutions prove too costly or unsuitable for marginal fields, so smarter engineering combined with better ways to manage technical and economic risk is required.

"If the subsea industry can rise to this challenge of economically tapping into these pools, the North Sea could have a whole new lease of life.”

Carlo Procaccini, Head of Technology at the OGA, said: "Following an extensive mapping exercise, we now know exactly where these small pools are located and we are working with NSRI and others to change the existing industry paradigms to unlock their potential. 

"Technology development is key to small pools cost reduction, from reducing the cost of development wells to designing optimised subsea infrastructure and tie-backs to existing host facilities or efficient standalone concepts.

"Exploited successfully, the recoverable oil and gas held in small pools offer a significant MER UK opportunity and could represent a new chapter for the UKCS.”

The session which will be chaired by Mr Blake, will welcome speakers from the OGA, Oil and Gas UK, EnQuest, the Oil and Gas Technology Centre, Technip and Subsea 7. The presentations will look at activity currently underway to effectively unlock the potential value of small pools, as well as highlight the approach and mind-set required to progress economically viable marginal fields.

"We need the industry to embrace the size of the prize and come up with modern, cost-effective approaches to safely exploit marginal and stranded fields. We hope the session will help to break down some of the barriers and identify ways to help speed up the development of fit-for-purpose solutions which will go some way in securing the long-term future of the industry in the UK North Sea,” added Mr Blake. 

The Unlocking Marginal Fields session will take place on Thursday 2nd February at Subsea Expo, which takes place at the Aberdeen Exhibition & Conference Centre from 1-3 February 2017. 

With around 150 exhibitors expected, Subsea Expo is an opportunity for those in the industry to showcase new technology and services.  The 2017 programme is packed with high profile industry speakers from a number of companies including Aker Solutions, Xodus, Wood Group and Shell UK. Their presentations will cover global opportunities, fields of the future, diversification, integrity management, life extension and unlocking marginal fields.