Oil sector need to adapt to sustain production

Speakers at the Offshore Plenary Session said UK North Sea production can be sustained into 2030s and beyond, but that sector will have to adapt, in a variety of ways to achieve this.

Sam Laidlaw, CEO of Centrica, said current investment plans target 11bn of reserves. Recovery of the 13bn thought to remain, would depend partly on how the UK’s taxation regime evolved, he cautioned.

Andrew Gould, chairman of BG Group, said that consistency of the fiscal regime is what investors are looking for, irrespective of how heavy the tax burden may be. This would help the sector attract more new players, which would increase recovery from existing fields and develop fields in frontier areas.

“Compared to other parts of the world, management of safety here is better than anywhere else,” he continued. “The next step is to use technology to reduce the number of people working offshore in the North Sea.”

That, he said, would involve innovations in communications technology and also new types of offshore facilities designed for remote operations. Remote management would allow more efficient use of skilled resources than on just one platform or rig. At the same time, redundancy of equipment in these situations will be important,as 100% uptime will be critical.

Gould also called for new techniques to increase recovery from subsea wellheads in the North Sea. He claimed there is a need, for new materials to resist the geo-mechanical loads sustained in more extreme high-pressure/high-temperature wells, along with more rugged electronics in high-pressure logging tools.

The sector would further benefit from more field developments involving shared power connections from shore to offshore facilities, he concluded.

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