We are living in changing times. The oil and gas industry today is facing new challenges both economic and technical. The North Sea is a maturing province, world oil prices are still very low in real terms, recent discoveries are technically and commercially marginal, the industry is searching for oil and gas in deeper waters, and encountering more difficult reservoirs, and yet despite these challenges the UKCS presents many significant opportunities.
Successful development and the application of innovative technologies will enable the industry to overcome the challenges that it faces, and take advantage of many opportunities both at home and overseas.
The industry need to promote Research, Development and (prototype) Demonstration, to deliver the technologies, products and services needed by oilfield operators. To minimize the cost of this effort we need appropriate facilities that can be shared on an ‘as required bases’ (i.e. open access)
The Aberdeen Offshore Technologies Park has brought together a number of such open access facilities to support and stimulate high quality RD & D, and more facilities are on the way.
Many "high tech" companies have set up bases on the AOTP where they mix with other like-minded organizations, and we have seen splendid partnership created to drive forward the development of innovative technology.
The Joint Industry Project (JIP) approach is undoubtedly a sound method in bringing together innovative technical ideas, as well as obtaining maximum leverage from the funding members. Partnership is the name of the game and a sound route, through RD & D to successful commercialization of concepts in the oil and gas industry.
I recently heard George Watkns of Conoco say that we are now 30 years into a potential 90 year programme for the exploration of oil and gas from the UKSC. That we have 60 years to go- and a lot still to do.
I also heard someone, I think it was Keith Allan of Shell say that thirty years ago we predicted that we had 30 years left of oil extraction form the North Sea. Today we are predicting that there is 30 years of oil extraction still to go. At least we are consistent in what we predict or maybe not.
My point is that we still have plenty of challenges ahead of us.
The advent of continuing low world oil prices has lead to a real desire by the operators to re-engineer their businesses. They are concentrating on their core activities and trying to share risks and rewards with their suppliers by so called partnering arrangements. Above all they are striving to reduce their costs base by extracting costs from their operations. The CRINE initiative has flagged this desire to a now very significant extent.
In recent years we have not been able to find big fields like the ones that made life so remunerative in the seventies and eighties. The reservoirs which we are finding in the nineties, together with those which we found earlier