The Pierce Field in the UK Central North Sea has production potential significantly beyond the originally anticipated life. A Life Extension project was initiated to develop a scope of work to refurbish and upgrade the facilities, suitable for the revised field life. The initial plan was to perform a ‘full reset’ of the facilities to extend their operating life for a further 15 years, but this resulted in a very long production outage (14 months) with an intense period of capital spend in the short term. With the low oil price environment emerging at the same time, there was a need to identify an alternative approach which would significantly improve the field cashflow by phasing the Life Extension work.

The revised approach was to develop a solution which had a more equitable balance of risk and value against cost, with production uptime a key value driver. Fundamental to this was building an understanding of the existing condition of the facilities and then developing a risk-based view of how they were likely to perform for the extended operational period. Focussing on the major risks and assessing them individually, ‘Decision-based’ roadmaps were then developed to plan the technical work required to enable decisions on mitigations to be made. A ‘Competitive Scoping’ mindset was used to ensure fit-for-purpose solutions were tailored to the specific risks. Starting from a ‘do-nothing’ perspective as the base-case, the incremental value of the mitigations was shown and compared to the level of risk reduction they brought. This then allowed decisions to be made on the optimum mitigation solution.

In addition to the technical assessment of the individual risks, the execution strategy was also developed and concluded that a phased approach was achievable and would significantly improve cashflow from the asset.

The result was a Life Extension ‘Programme’ rather than a single ‘Project’, where short, medium and long-term Life Extension scopes are scheduled according to their necessity. Each Life Extension scope will be managed as an individual sub-project and only executed ‘when required’. The revised strategy avoided an extended production outage in the short term, reduced total cost by circa 50%, and phased the spend over approximately 10 years.

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