There has been significant progress, through the work of the TLB, to agree key themes for which rigorous business cases have been prepared to:
- Adopt existing technologies (those deployed by single operators and/or in other international basins, but not yet commonplace in the UKCS)
- Adapt technologies that are still immature or require optimisation to meet specific conditions (those that are in a pilot-phase and/or are used in other industries but need to be adapted to offshore applications)
- Develop novel technologies and business models for deployment, tackling fundamental areas of improved resource recovery and operational efficiencies.
Well cost reduction
New technologies and efficient practices will deliver significant savings in the drilling and construction of wells allowing additional marginal and mature field reserves to be developed and help to extend the life of existing infrastructure. Solutions include managed-pressure drilling, drilling while casing, extended reach drilling and standardised well designs. These can be complemented by securing economies of scale and other commercial efficiencies, eg, through industry collaboration. Over 50% reduction in well construction costs is achievable and could unlock the drilling of 30 to 60 additional wells each year, above current forecasts, unlocking further potential hydrocarbon recovery of 1 billion barrels of oil equivalent.
A significant contribution to achieving MER UK is the exploitation of circa 225 small pools of hydrocarbons, defined as discoveries of oil or gas accumulations between 3 and 50mmboe. These small pools have total estimated recoverable reserves (P50) of 2.4 bnboe.
For further information on UKCS small pool opportunities, location, proximity to infrastructure, ownership, key technical challenges and area maps, please view the UKCS Unsanctioned Discoveries Information pack - October 2016 (PDF, 15 pages, 118KB)
Technology can help the industry achieve efficiencies in maintenance and integrity costs, and improve production uptime by over 10%. For example, it is possible to introduce more efficient inspection and corrosion monitoring technologies, by transferring best practices from other industries, such as the construction and the nuclear sectors. Technologies tested in the UKCS would attract significant interest from other international offshore basins, stimulating export opportunities.
Digital technologies and data
Advanced methods to acquire, share, analyse and use operational data for improved diagnostic and decision-making in the field can deliver multi-billion pound savings in annual costs across logistics and materials management, asset integrity and maintenance. A similar major upside can be found in using data analytics in exploration and production operations, with the potential to add significant additional reserves. Digital solutions and enhanced sensors can also significantly reduce operating and decommissioning costs by introducing more automation in operations and allowing the decommissioning of structures to be scheduled as part of a campaign.
Current cost engineering estimates suggest that by 2050, approximately £47 billion will be required to decommission UKCS fields and facilities. However, market-led estimates could be higher. Development and deployment of new technology will play a key role in achieving the MER UK target of delivering at least a 35% reduction in decommissioning costs, delivering significant value to operators, the service sector and the UK government.
Enhanced Oil Recovery
The OGA estimates that there are some 3.8 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of remaining gas resources within the Southern North Sea (SNS), inclusive of infill opportunities, undeveloped discoveries and prospects.
Tight gas reservoirs are often disregarded as both high cost and high risk. License holders tend to focus their resources on opportunities that are less complex, have lower development costs and higher recovery factors.
OGA’s Tight Gas Strategy sets out a high-level overview. The successful implementation and delivery of this Tight Gas Strategy aims to help deliver tight gas developments across the SNS in support of the MER UK Strategy and OGA’s objectives and priorities within the Corporate Plan.
Advances in the areas outlined above will have a significant positive impact on other applications which are also dependent on offshore infrastructure, such as carbon capture and storage (CCS). Key opportunities will be captured through better integrity management of pipelines and platforms, as well as the reduction in well construction costs and eventual decommissioning liabilities. In addition, technologies in power generation and transport, as well as offshore maintenance and operations may lead to the transfer of lessons learned and operational synergies with the offshore renewable energy industry.