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RADMAPP renewable resource mapping optimises UKCS small pools to support the energy transition

Project Summary

It is estimated that there are more than 300 so-called “small pools” on the UKCS containing up to a combined 3.4 billion barrels of oil equivalent. These are already discovered oil and gas fields that are too small to develop economically with conventional solutions and are a combination of licenced and unlicenced discoveries. Often, they are too far from existing infrastructure and limited in volume, so that the costs associated with installing a power connection to run any local facilities is prohibitive.

Offshore renewable energy could unlock these small pools by providing local power. These technologies have advanced significantly in recent years and could provide a cost-effective source of energy for small pools that are otherwise currently uneconomic to develop. In addition, using renewable energy to power small pool developments would also help to reduce their carbon intensity. NZTC wanted to screen the known small pools for their potential to be developed using renewable energy.

Aquatera developed a bespoke analytical tool to assess the feasibility of using renewable energy at the UKCS’ known small pools. Available information about the UKCS’ known small pools was used in Aquatera’s existing RADMAPP mapping system. RADMAPP contains geographical data, such as tidal flows, wave and wind patterns, so that it’s possible to assess the location of undeveloped discoveries in relation to the renewable energy available at those sites. The study identified where there was potential across a range of energy solutions. This was expanded to consider subsurface characteristics, logistics and overall field development economics.

Industry value:
By replacing umbilical power with alternative energy sources the industry can harness renewable power to reduce offshore emissions. This can save around £2 million in capital expenditure per deployment, or £145 million if applied to 20% of UKCS marginal developments.

Further advances in the capability of non-destructive testing methods through development of sensor technology should improve the coverage of the difficult to examine areas and hence broaden suitability of non-intrusive inspection as an alternative inspection method.

Key results:

The study found that up to 140 of the more than 300 known small pools on the UKCS could be developed using floating offshore wind. More than 50 could be developed using tidal energy, 31 with wave energy and 13 with fixed bottom offshore wind turbines. Three fields were identified that had the potential to utilise solar energy as a power source.

In addition to sites where new renewable energy developments could be introduced to support a marginal field development, existing renewable energy developments and their proximity to a small pool were examined. The potential for pools close to the coast to tap into the existing energy grid was also considered.

Aquatera also showed that significant clusters of small pools are close to existing fixed bottom offshore wind lease sites, especially in the North Sea off the east coast of England, as well as a handful in the east Irish sea and in the Moray Firth.

Lessons learned:
Next steps will be to identify potential new developments from operators that the RADMAPP system can be used to analyse. By using operator data to refine the model and incorporating commercial analysis small pools that could be economically powered by renewable energy sources can be locate.

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