Small Pools

The small pools resource base has been estimated at some 225 discovered fields between 3 and 50 million barrels of oil equivalent (mmboe) distributed across the UKCS.

These fields currently do not meet the economic requirements to progress to investment. Our Small Pools Solution Centre seeks to identify and develop innovative technologies to lower the development lifecycle costs of these marginal fields.

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Enhanced recovery from small pools

Our Small Pools Solution Centre builds on all the work done by the UK Technology Leadership Board theme group identifying the issues and barriers to economic development. We seek to identify the technology requirements across the basins and define appropriate solutions per development area. We recognise that individual basin areas have a variety of specific issues to overcome, and these are not always common across all areas of the UKCS.

Our target is the development of currently fallow fields and accelerated investment in applied technologies applicable to ‘marginal field developments’. Within the first three years, working in partnership with the Oil and Gas Authority, we will seek to deliver:

  • a cost reduction of 25% -30% of capital costs with benefits flowing through the full field lifecycle
  • a portfolio of 3-5 developments on-going
  • 1-3 clusters under development

Applied technology solutions

We are working to identify a technology road map for each basin within the UKCS. These maps will then be consolidated to create a single map of the potential resources. Our initial focus is on engaging with key stakeholders; building relationships with operators and leading service companies.

The Technology Leadership Board has compiled an initial summary of the key technology issues or barriers to the development of the marginal fields that have been grouped under the following headings:

  • fluid commingling
  • differential pressure
  • gas disposal
  • low energy reservoirs / difficult fluids

We have started a full analysis of the outputs from the TLB work group.

Our priorities

Small pools priorities over the next ten years

Working in partnership

We recognise there are several operators with whom a close working relationship should be mutually beneficial. These are primarily those operating companies that hold undeveloped discoveries and have reserves under production. The operating companies are Shell, Conoco Phillips, Nexen, Total, Apache, BP and Premier Oil. This list is not exhaustive but does reflect our current thinking.

The role of the Oil & Gas Authority with respect to the unlicensed discoveries is also pivotal to the success of the Small Pools Solution Centre.

Delivering economic benefit

There are approximately 225 small pools of hydrocarbons in the UKCS, defined as discoveries of oil or gas accumulations between 3 and 50mmboe, with total estimated recoverable reserves of 2.4 bnboe.

It has been calculated that a reduction of 50% in the cost to develop and operate these small pools could reduce the current minimum economic field size from 12 mmboe to 6 mmboe. The potential return from unlocking all small pools is an additional $19bn of capital expenditure and $25bn of operating expenditure over 10 years. This would bring enhanced employment and exporting opportunities for the UK, with a corresponding return to the UK Treasury of circa $11bn.

Pools by top 20 licence operators

Top 20 licence holders for Unsanctioned discoveries
Reference: The Oil & Gas Authority (OGA), The UKCS unsanctioned discoveries pack