North Sea Legacy Continues to Help Shape Global Energy Production
- Fredrik Harestad (Omega Completion Technology)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- August 2014
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 18 - 20
- 2014. Copyright is retained by the author. This document is distributed by SPE with the permission of the author. Contact the author for permission to use material from this document.
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There is no doubt that North Sea activity, both its highs and lows, has been the benchmark of quality and efficiency for many decades. It is also clear that frontier regions, such as west Africa and South America and the more established Middle East, look north to emulate and take advantage of innovative technologies that have been tried and tested in the United Kingdom and Norwegian continental shelves, and that can be transferred to more challenging or hostile environments.
Aligned with the transfer of technology and skills is the ambition of many regions, such as the Middle East, to develop and enhance its level of in-country competency. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has traditionally been dominated by the supermajors, but with the entrance of smaller or more independent companies, such as Statoil and Maersk, and competitors from China and South Korea, the “old guard” may have less impact and influence in the future.
Over the past 10 years, a number of regional research centers have been created in the Middle East, including the Qatar Science and Technology Park, the Petroleum Institute in Abu Dhabi, Sultan Qaboos University in Oman, Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia. All these centers work alongside a number of national and international oil companies as well as international service companies across the region.
One of the main challenges facing the Middle East region is maximizing production. The UAE alone has a sustained production target of 3.5 million BOPD. Achieving this goal will require recovery rates far greater than the global average, so the combined use of indigenous developments and the modification of traditional techniques from the North Sea experience will have a significant role to play.
As in the Middle East, Brazil has been producing oil and gas for several decades, both onshore and offshore. However, deepwater exploration and production (E&P) offshore Brazil is fairly new, especially in ultradeepwater. Unlike the Middle East, where in-country value is an ambition, local content in all new field developments in Brazil is a requirement, whereby international operators must purchase a certain percentage of goods and services from locally established providers.
Despite the obvious restrictions, global operators are getting their foot in the marketplace through the investment in and creation of technology centers. This flood of money into the country’s economy and education system will foster a new generation of motivators and innovators tackling the solutions for deep and ultradeepwater pre-salt carbonate fields on their own doorstep. This shifting landscape has the potential to influence the technology development framework globally.
The philosophy of the centers is based on cementing a closer collaboration between the industry and academia. Schlumberger’s Brazil Research and Geoengineering Center, for example, boasts three fully integrated laboratories for testing and evaluating rocks and fluids in controlled environments and has a staffing capacity of 300. FMC Technologies has invested more than USD 200 million over the past 5 years to ramp up the output of products, such as wet Christmas trees, an ensemble of underwater pipes and valves designed to manage the flow of oil and natural gas from deepwater wells.
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