Technology, along with continual cost reductions, is one of the major reasons for Norway's success as an oil and gas producer, according to Statoil Executive Vice President Henrik Carlsen. Tech-nological advances helped the country achieve an incremental growth in oil production higher than in any other non-OPEC producer during the 1990s and will be the basis for meeting the challenge of prolonging the oil plateau period beyond current expectations.
Referring to the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS) as a "technology greenhouse," Carlsen told the Intsok seminar in Houston in March, "Introducing new technological innovations has been necessary to solve the challenges on the NCS – rough sea, strong currents, harsh weather conditions, and temperatures. Use of highly innovative solutions is driven by our requirements, not by obsession with the technology itself."
Benchmarking by international consultant IPA shows that companies operating on the NCS are more willing to introduce new technology than companies operating in other areas.
In the future, there will be significantly fewer large fields to develop, and challenges will include optimizing production from mature fields and areas. Statoil is considering how best to capture the large value creation potential it sees in its operated mature Tampen area. As part of the Tampen 2020 project, Statoil has identified cross-field measures that will cut annual area costs by NKr 200 million, Carlsen said. The strategy for redeveloping the area will be finalized next year.
Carlsen mentioned four areas central to Statoil's technology drive:
- Well technology: Reducing drilling costs, which accounts for an increasing share of overall capex as the size of fields get smaller
- Seabed processing: Statoil is considering the use of a full-scale subsea separation system to facilitate satellite developments around the Norne field. This would separate out produced water on the seabed and reinject it into the reservoir
- Increased oil recovery from subsea wells: Statoil is intensifying efforts to increase recovery from subsea wells. One potential solution is well intervention from lighter vessels
- Seafloor logging: This new exploration tool shows promise in directly detecting the presence of oil and gas.
Technology development will be required for Statoil to achieve its production target of 1.26 MMboe/d by 2007 and its ambition of maintaining output of 1 MMboe/d on the NCS.