Is there a fu­ture in the UKCS?

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - ENERGY VOICE -

I was born in 1976. It was a decade that was not only phe­nom­e­nal but also trans­for­ma­tional for the oil and gas in­dus­try. A lot has hap­pened through the 40-plus years of peaks and troughs and, cer­tainly, it has not all been good.

How­ever, it can’t be de­nied that the in­dus­try has made a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to the UK econ­omy in the form of £330 bil­lion in pro­duc­tion taxes and the sup­port of more than 280,000 jobs. The sec­tor has also im­proved the way of life for UK ci­ti­zens. Even more so for those of us liv­ing in the “Aberdeen bub­ble”.

It is im­por­tant to note that UK do­mes­tic pro­duc­tion cur­rently only meets 45% of the coun­try’s de­mand. Ad­di­tional re­sources are cur­rently im­ported, which does not con­trib­ute to UK taxes, does not keep peo­ple in jobs, and does not help in terms of achiev­ing net zero sta­tus.

Pro­duc­tion from the UKCS peaked around 1999 and was on a steady de­cline un­til 2015 when lev­els started to in­crease again year-on-year. This rise was in re­sponse to the Sir Ian Wood Re­port pub­lished in 2014, which pro­vided rec­om­men­da­tions to make the basin more sus­tain­able and more com­pet­i­tive. The es­tab­lish­ment of the Oil and Gas Author­ity in 2015 and the in­creased fo­cus on max­imis­ing eco­nomic recovery has seen pro­duc­tion lev­els reach their high­est point in re­cent years.

Ten­deka, with our range of pro­duc­tion op­ti­mi­sa­tion and sand con­trol tech­nolo­gies, con­tin­ues to play an in­te­gral role in safe, pro­duc­tive and sus­tain­able op­er­a­tions in the UKCS and be­yond.

In 2017, cer­tainly within the

UK, we shifted our fo­cus towards ma­ture fields to de­velop and de­ploy en­hanced tech­nol­ogy to squeeze as much as pos­si­ble from each well.

Our PulseEight wire­less sys­tem, for ex­am­ple, can be used as an al­ter­na­tive safety de­vice within the well when con­ven­tional op­tions are lim­ited due to con­trol line fail­ure. This could al­low many wells that are cur­rently shut-in in the UK North Sea to be safely and eco­nom­i­cally opened back up again.

Dur­ing later life, our au­ton­o­mous in­flow con­trol de­vice (AICD) can be in­stalled in older wells that are pro­duc­ing with un­man­age­ably high wa­ter cut or gas-oil-ra­tios. These events typ­i­cally mean oil pro­duc­tion de­clines and wells need to be shutin. The AICD helps to de­lay the wa­ter or gas break­through us­ing a small, lev­i­tat­ing disk within the com­ple­tion that lifts to choke wa­ter and gas as they travel at higher ve­loc­ity due to their lower vis­cos­ity. The same prin­ci­ples are used in the aerospace in­dus­try to let an aero­plane take off. As it trav­els along the run­way, the ve­loc­ity in­creases caus­ing dif­fer­ent pres­sures to act above and be­low the wing, pow­er­ing it to lift and fly.

We are now work­ing on a new re­me­dial sand con­trol so­lu­tion called Fil­trex, which can be ap­plied to age­ing wells where sand pro­duc­tion can cause sig­nif­i­cant prob­lems. It is a unique, in­no­va­tive de­sign for a fil­ter me­dia that can be run in-hole, then ac­ti­vated, to re­store sand-free pro­duc­tion.

Within just a few years, the in­tense fo­cus and scru­tiny of the oil and gas in­dus­try’s en­vi­ron­men­tal cre­den­tials has ramped up, putting a question mark on the sec­tor’s so­cial li­cence to op­er­ate. In May the UK Par­lia­ment de­clared a cli­mate emer­gency and in June the gov­ern­ment set a le­gal tar­get to re­duce green­house gas emis­sions to net zero by 2050. The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment was more ag­gres­sive by tar­get­ing 2045.

There is un­der­stand­ably huge pres­sure and re­spon­si­bil­ity on in­dus­try lead­ers and in­no­va­tors to avert an im­pend­ing cli­mate cri­sis.

The de­vel­op­ment of tech­nolo­gies to al­low car­bon cap­ture and stor­age, for in­stance, as well as fu­elling our plat­forms with cleaner, greener power and, most im­por­tantly, closer col­lab­o­ra­tion with the re­new­able sec­tor, are fi­nally com­ing to the fore.

The mar­ket is also chang­ing as our basin ma­tures. In the last five years, more than 400 oil and gas fields have stopped pro­duc­ing and, ac­cord­ing to an­a­lysts, around $32 bil­lion is ex­pected to be spent on decommissi­oning to 2025.

Us­ing our in­her­ent in­ge­nu­ity, this is an­other area where we can put our pi­o­neer­ing spirit to good use for the planet to re­use plat­forms for wind and wa­ter power gen­er­a­tion and in the cre­ation of ar­ti­fi­cial reefs.

Times are most def­i­nitely chang­ing. For the first time in my 20-year ca­reer in oil and gas I find I have to jus­tify my ca­reer choices, ex­plain why tech­nol­ogy providers like Ten­deka are still valid to­day, and share my con­fi­dence that there is a fu­ture in the UKCS for gen­er­a­tions to come.

■ Gil­lian King is VP Europe, Rus­sia, CIS & Africa, Ten­deka

Gil­lian King says times are chang­ing

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