Improved technology to boost UK continental shelf oil and gas output

Feb 06, 2001 01:00 AM

The UK continental shelf is on track to boost oil and gas output to 3 mm bpd oil equivalent by 2010 with the help of improved technology and industry collaboration, industry executives said. Annual investments of £ 3 bn ($ 4.4 bn) will be needed to bring output to this level from less than 2 mm bpd of oil equivalent at present, they said but added that the figure was well within reach.
"I feel much more confident now that these targets will be met than I was two years back," head of Shell UK Exploration and Production Malcolm Brinded told. He said investments in the sector totalled £ 3 bn last year and were expected to hit £ 4 bn in 2001. Brinded is also co-chair of PILOT, an industry-government body charged with delivering the programme outlined for 2010 and he said the body was aiming for a 50 % increase in industry-related exports by 2005 by ensuring cost-effectiveness.
"The UK has a 4 % share of world oil and gas-related markets of about £100 bn. Our aim is to increase our internationalbusiness from £ 4 bn to £ 6 bn by 2005." The United Kingdom Continental Shelf (UKCS) has produced 28 bn barrels of oil and gas so far, with about 36 bn barrels believed to remain to be tapped and Brinded said the shelf was yet to peak in overall production terms.

This is contrary to earlier forecasts which said North Sea oil would run out by the mid-1990s or latest by 2000. PILOT says recovery rates at fields such as Forties have gone up to 62 % from 42 %, with 70 % being targeted. Brinded said PILOT participants -- over 20 producers, suppliers, contractors and unions -- were looking at brown, as well as new undeveloped oilfields to boost production.
"PILOT has identified that brown fields are capable of yielding a potential prize of two to 4 bn barrels of oil equivalent, above today's proven reserves," Brinded said. "The task is to squeeze even more oil from existing fields."
He said this, along with harnessing undeveloped fields could underpin the industry's development even beyond 2010. Both tasks are currently seen as technically difficult or uneconomical. The new fields are likely to be developed in clusters -- sites grouped together by geography or similarity of challenges -- despite being under different operators.
PILOT says the measures would also help preserve jobs to some extent, though employment overall in the industry is set to drop over the years. "There is still much to do," Brinded said. "We still face the challenge of maturity -- smaller fields and higher costs relative to our global competitors.

Source: Al Nisr Publishing LLC
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