7 Development Activities Approved in 1997
7.1 Under the terms of petroleum production licences, development work and the production of petroleum may be carried out only with the consent of the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, or under a development and production programme approved by the Secretary of State.
7.2 In 1997, 29 plans were authorised: 18 oil and condensate, 11 gas including one gas pipeline. These are listed in Table 7.1.
Table 7.1 - Development Plans authorised in 1997
|Development Plan||Field Type||Authorisation Date|
|Columba B Terrace*||(oil)||July|
* Incremental projects, i.e. further development within the petroleum revenue tax area of existing fields.
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TRENDS AND FIELD HIGHLIGHTS
7.3 It has been a challenging year all round with industry continuing to adapt to changes associated with developments in a maturing oil and gas province. This situation continues to present new opportunities for growth and it has been encouraging to see industry exploit these using both innovative and incentive driven technical and commercial approaches. For example new leases of life have been brought about in several mature fields previously thought to be near the end of economic life, through the added drive and investment of new players. Also, changes in field management style through the greater involvement of contractors has brought clear benefit, however we are keen to ensure operators pay due regard to the balance of retained inhouse skills and devolved contractor responsibility.
7.4 Small and technically difficult fields are increasingly opening up for development, often employing novel and varied development techniques. Advanced seismic and drilling technology are very much at the forefront in enabling such development but commercial flexibility, in an increasingly environmentally aware arena, must be forthcoming if these are to be fully realised in a timely manner. The trend towards greater use of floating production methods continues, and presently there are some 20 systems operating or being planned.
7.5 1997 also produced several firsts, for example; the start up of Erskine, the UKs first true High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) field, of Foinaven, the first Atlantic Margin field and of Captain, the first UK heavy oil development. These are notable new field development achievements all of which have had to overcome difficult technical challenges. The trend towards use of extended reach drilling continues and in this respect acknowledgement should be given to BP in their achievement at reaching a horizontal stepout of over 10 Km in their recent Wytch Farm well - a new world record.
7.6 Production levels in 1997 remain comparable to 1996 and this has been achieved from an increasingly varied mix of fields. There are now over 200 producing fields with the West Sole gas field still on production after some 30 years. Decommissioning remains largely on the horizon with only the small Donan field ceasing to produce in 1997. Decommissioning does however reside firmly at the forefront of government and industry thinking and considerable effort continues to be made to ensure appropriate decommissioning procedures are pursued.
7.7 At the time of going to print 20 oil and gas development plans were being discussed with the Department, and during 1998 discussions could begin on a further 25 - 30 new and incremental development plans.
HYDROCARBONS ADDITIONAL RECOVERY PROGRAMME (HARP)
7.8 The DTIs Oil and Gas Directorate funds a Hydrocarbons Additional Recovery Programme (HARP) with the aim of providing the Department with the technical support which it requires to fulfil its regulatory function of ensuring maximum recovery of economic hydrocarbons from UK fields and the objective to promote and sponsor innovative recovery techniques.
7.9 The HARP programme is designed to identify best practice techniques and encourage companies to adopt them in their fields to increase economic recovery. Results from the engineering studies are used in the assessment of development plans put forward by UK operators and the monitoring of fields in production.
7.10 Recent work carried out under the programme has identified significant potential reserves in one developed reservoir and infill drilling opportunities in another mature field, which the operator is now pursuing. Further reservoir simulation studies have been instrumental in demonstrating that the Foinaven field reserves could be increased by injecting the associated gas into a separate geological structure.
7.11 A reconstituted Advisory Committee on Hydrocarbons Additional Recovery Research (ACHARR) supersedes the Advisory Committee on Improved Oil Recovery Research (ACEORR) and is being asked to advise the DTI on the technology and science it should sponsor to secure maximum economic recovery and other means by which the DTI can help the Industry identify and solve its medium term issues. For example, projects to improve dissemination and cross-fertilisation as well as support for poorly funded collaborative research.
7.12 The Research & Development aspects of the programme are integrated with confidential, field specific studies to ensure that all opportunities for improved oil and gas recovery are evaluated and that key areas for applied research are identified at an early stage. There remains a significant potential to increase the yield from reservoirs as confirmed by the Technology Foresight Energy Panel.
7.13 The DTI participates in a number of joint industry projects and with guidance from the advisory committee plays an active part in promoting and sponsoring these. Work on air injection, microbial growth, horizontal and multilateral wells, Water Alternating Gas (WAG) gas injection, fluid behaviour, coalbed methane well modelling, gas condensate reservoir management and uniwell seismic is being undertaken by research clubs at Imperial College, Heriot-Watt, Edinburgh, Bath, Liverpool and Exeter Universities and at the laboratories of AEA Technology and Oil Plus.
| Table of Contents
Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9
Appendix 1 | Appendix 2 | Appendix 3 | Appendix 4 | Appendix 5 | Appendix 6 | Appendix 7 | Appendix 8
Appendix 9 | Appendix 10 | Appendix 11 | Appendix 12 | Appendix 13 | Appendix 14 | Appendix 15 | Appendix 16 | Appendix 17
Plate 1 | Plate 2W | Plate 2E | Plate 3W | Plate 3E | Plate 4W | Plate 4E | Plate 5W | Plate 5E | Plate 6 | Plate 7
Plate 8W | Plate 8E | Plate 9W | Plate 9E | Plate 10W | Plate 10E | Plate 11 | Plate 12