More than three billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe) of unsanctioned finds remain to be explored in approximately 350 unsanctioned discoveries across the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS).
Out of this total, the majority represents “small pools”, which are defined as discoveries holding less than 50 million barrels of oil equivalent that are technically recoverable, mostly located within potential tieback or extended reach drilling distance from existing infrastructure, according to a report by the UK Oil and Gas Authority (OGA).
“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,” Gordon Drummond, project director of NSRI (National Subsea Research Initiative), said.
Unsanctioned Finds Bring New Life to the North Sea
The report, developed by the OGA in conjunction with the NSRI, Centrica, EnQuest and The Industry Technology Facilitator (ITF), listed a series of technologies for further screening, including means to reduce subsea tieback costs and concepts for efficient standalone solutions.
“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 capitalised upon,” Drummond added.
“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,” he stated further.
Small Pools Bring Added Value to the North Sea
“We recognise the challenges operators are facing to develop these marginal oil and gas accumulations. Small pools represent a very significant opportunity to maximise economic recovery (MER) from the UKCS,” OGA Head of Technology, Carlo Procaccini, said.
“Technology has an important role to play to reduce the cost of development wells, design optimised subsea infrastructure to existing host facilities and develop efficient standalone concepts,” he added.