Key themes: small pools

A significant MER UK opportunity is the development of hydrocarbon accumulations, which are currently considered too marginal to be sanctioned. 

There are over 300 oil and gas “small pools”, defined as discoveries of oil or gas accumulations under 50mmboe, that currently are not being pursued by licence holders.

There are a number of reasons why many small pools remain undeveloped, and these can be broadly split into subsurface, facilities and economic groupings. 

  • Subsurface: small or complex reservoirs with a high degree of production uncertainty.
  • Facilities: distance of pools from infrastructure, which in turn have insufficient capacity or, insufficient remaining life.
  • Economic: internal competition for capital, commercial misalignment between stakeholders, high development and operating costs, leading to expected returns below hurdle rates for investment approval

A number of bodies exist under the MER UK forum to resolve these issues; the Technology Leadership Board (TLB) led Small Pools Theme is focused on facilities and infrastructure technical issues, with a key interface being the Wells 50% cost reduction theme.

Technology has a significant role to play with regards to small pools cost reduction, from reducing the cost of development wells to designing optimised subsea infrastructure and tie-backs to existing host facilities or efficient standalone concepts.

Small Pools Hackathon workshop events held in late 2015 identified over 100 technical opportunities, concepts and potential solutions that could be pursued to address the known challenges.

Related information

For further information on UKCS small pool opportunities, location, proximity to infrastructure, ownership, key technical challenges and area maps, please view the UKCS Unsanctioned Discoveries Information pack - October 2016 (PDF, 15 pages, 118KB)

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