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‘Facility of the Future’ initiative to transform oil and gas developments

Today, the Oil & Gas Technology Centre launches an industry-backed ‘Facility of the Future’ initiative that could halve the cost of developing and operating an oil and gas facility and help unlock more than 3.5 billion barrels of reserves in marginal discoveries on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS). 

There are more than 360 marginal discoveries on the UKCS – each holding between 3-50 million barrels of oil equivalent. Developing these discoveries using existing approaches, such as a fixed platform or floating vessel, is not economical, and many are not within economic tieback distance of existing infrastructure.

The ‘Facility of the Future’ initiative will develop lower-cost, reusable, smart facilities that are operated remotely from onshore control centres. The facilities will be designed with the latest automation technology and for minimal manning, reducing the requirement for people to work in the hazardous offshore environment and creating new, skilled onshore jobs.

The initiative kicks-off with a multi-partner study, led by Crondall Energy subsidiary, Buoyant Production Technologies Ltd., and co-funded by the Technology Centre and collaborating partners, to develop a floating facility concept that expands the capabilities of fixed normally unattended installations (NUIs). NUIs are typically used for shallow water gas fields.

The study brings together operators and supply chain firms to develop a design concept that involves:

  • Remote control and automation technologies;
  • Expanding the processing facilities for oil and gas;
  • Removing water depth limitations; and
  • Exploring minimal manning approaches for produced oil storage and offloading. 

The Technology Centre has a number of ‘Facility of the Future’ projects in the pipeline and is seeking support from industry partners to make these a reality.

Chris Pearson, Marginal Discoveries Solution Centre Manager, said:

“New, smarter and more automated ways of developing oil and gas fields are required if we’re to fully unlock marginal discoveries and maximise economic recovery from the UKCS. The Facility of the Future initiative will help to significantly reduce life-cycle costs and strengthen the investment case for both marginal discoveries and more traditional reservoirs.

“Oil and gas is playing catch-up with many industries when it comes to automation and remote operations. We’re exploring how the combination of existing and new technology can be best used in the offshore environment to improve safety, reduce life cycle cost and increase efficiency.”