Subsea Expo

The voice of the UK subsea industry

Companies Target Small Fish, Big Prize

Companies Target Small Fish, Big Prize

View all news from: National Subsea Research Initiative (NSRI)
View directory entry for: National Subsea Research Initiative (NSRI)

13 August 2015

The UK is targeting the development of approximately 287 "small pools” of hydrocarbons on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) as a means of maximising the recovery of oil and gas left in the ground as well as acting as a trigger for further technology innovation and development.

Gordon Drummond, project director at the National Subsea Research Initiative (NSRI), told delegates at a recent conference in northeast England that this would help sustain the U.K. subsea industry in particular. He sees the pursuit of small pools as the next step, defining them as reservoirs of between 3 MMboe and 15 MMboe. He added that to achieve production from these assets, the industry must create new technology.

Operators Centrica and EnQuest are acting as technology champions for this "small pool” push, with workshops to be held in Aberdeen, Newcastle and London to pursue such projects.

"Small pools are a positive story about chasing new reserves and not the start of the decommissioning process for the U.K.,” he said.

Paddy O’Brien, CEO of the Industry Technology Facilitator (ITF), added that the Centrica- and EnQuest-backed project is looking to develop reserve pools of either 10 MMboe of gas or 30 MMboe for less than US$156 million (£100 million). "How technology can reduce costs will figure highly in the current climate,” he said. 

Jeremy Cutler, Total E&P U.K.’s head of technology innovation, said his company’s target for small pools in the U.K. is to develop 15 MMboe for less than US$234 million (£150 million).

Total has three main U.K. technology focus areas: long-distance subsea tiebacks (small pools), effective drilling and completions (lower costs/increase productivity), and intelligent operating and maintenance (including the use of robotics for unmanned platforms).

Others include subsurface imaging, decommissioning and onshore shale gas, Cutler added.

Analyst Wood Mackenzie has estimated that there are currently more than 300 discoveries without development plans containing nearly 3.9 Bboe offshore the U.K. The last time a discovery larger than 100 MMboe was made in traditional sandstone reservoirs was in 2008 when the Culzean Field was found.