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SPE Workshop in conjunction with OTD: Deepwater EOR

15 – 16 October 2014

Bergen, Norway | Sotra Arena

Technical Agenda

Session 1: Retrofit/New Development

Session Managers: Glyn Freeman and Emma Chapman

The deployment of enhanced oil recovery schemes off-shore is still in its infancy. One of the biggest barriers is the increased facilities load for platforms or FPSO’s already under stringent weight restrictions. However, in a world of depleting reserves the size of the EOR prize which in many cases may equal the initial estimated recoverable oil in place makes this a barrier to be overcome. The inclusion of EOR facilities in new field development follows on from arguments that EOR gives most value if considered for secondary and not a tertiary recovery. Far more challenging is the development of brownfield sites with retro-fitted EOR schemes. Space is at a premium on offshore facilities and the EOR challenge must address both the additional requirements for the EOR package itself and the potential changes required to the production and separation systems. The significant retrofit challenges of spatial and weight restrictions may be overcome by some novel solutions such as the placing of skids on the sea-bed and mooring of storage vessels along-side the production facility. In the North Sea, EOR has been successfully deployed or piloted on a number of brownfield sites. Despite the long pay-back times for EOR schemes, this trend looks set to continue in accordance with the Wood Review including possible future obligations towards Maximizing Economic Recovery being placed on licence holders. In order to stimulate the required investments, favourable and stable licensing and taxation schemes are needed for example for accelerated recovery of capital costs.

Session 2: Uncertainty and Risk

Session Managers: Marie Ann Giddins and Dag Chun Standnes

All EOR projects are subject to uncertainty and operational risk, but these are magnified for offshore projects by lack of experience, limited data and higher implementation costs. Uncertainty analysis and simulation of multiple realizations may help to quantify the range of possible outcomes. Laboratory studies and pilot programs can help to reduce uncertainty, but can be expensive and time consuming.

In this session we will encourage interactive discussions on perceived risks and possible mitigation strategies for offshore EOR. (But what about the “unknown unknowns”…?)

Session 3: Production Technology & HSE

Session Managers: Jean-Francois Argillier and Robin Shields

Offshore EOR processes are challenged by greater complexity and costs compared to onshore applications of the same technologies due to space and weight constraints. This session aims to discuss challenges, lessons learned and innovative solutions for production technology which could meet the demanding requirement for offshore EOR processes in terms of technical and economical performance and environmental sustainability. For advanced water flooding processes, like low salt or chemical EOR, challenges concern injection water quality specifications for EOR, processing produced fluids containing back-produced EOR chemicals (polymers, surfactants) that impact oil/water separation and water treatment and make it challenging to get to the specification for water discharge or preferred reinjection, availability of EOR grade highly biodegradable chemicals, monitoring chemicals in production systems, use of produced water for EOR operations (coupling PWRI and EOR).

Session 4: Modelling and Simulation

Session Managers: Glyn Freeman and Marie Ann Giddins

EOR is a large investment with delayed return on investment and as such it is essential to rank targets and predict the respective efficacy of various EOR methods.

With so many unknowns and so many different options to consider, modelling and simulation are essential tools for EOR studies, from initial feasibility screening and research to process design and full field development planning.  What level of detail is needed at different stages of an EOR project to understand the reservoir dynamics, physical and chemical processes?  How can we ensure our models are fit for purpose?

Topics for discussion in this session include:

  • Input data requirements for EOR screening
  • EOR screening methods
  • Simulation of laboratory processes
  • Reservoir characterization for EOR
  • Upscaling to full field studies

Session 5: EOR Technology (Polymers, ASP, CO2)

Session Managers: Jean-Francois Argillier, Emma Chapman, and Kjell Hoff

With dwindling reserves and a high oil price the development of economical enhanced oil recovery schemes is now a major objective of the industry. With a good track record in onshore deployment, the industry is now looking to extend into off-shore environments. This brings a whole new suite of challenges, with the North Sea giving the most challenges due to a harsh environment and stringent environmental legislation. Poor accessibility brings logistics challenges, with seawater often being the only viable water source. Off-shore storage can be a major barrier. Environmental barriers both limit the choice of chemicals and force enhanced use of PWRI schemes as a result of low overboard discharge limits. Limited opportunity for facility design changes can result in issues such as deployment through a region of high shear in a choke. Despite this a number of EOR schemes are being piloted in both the Norwegian and UK sectors of the North Sea, including polymer flooding, LoSalTM EOR technology and miscible gas injection for EOR. 

Session 6: Incentivisation

Session Manager: Robin Shields

One major obstacle to performing EOR projects is the uncertainty of success and the delay in quantifying this success. Often results are difficult if not impossible to forecast with returns on investment delayed until many years down the line, on occasions with a new operator benefiting and approaching end-of-field life.  So how do companies go about justifying the cost of such projects to management and investors? Lab studies and reservoir simulations can only go so far to predicting the outcome but ultimately the success of the project is measured in extra barrels of oil to surface and the uncertain cash return for these barrels. To help with the CapEx costs of such projects certain incentives may be required to accelerate the return on investment and convince the operators that it is worth taking the risk. Schemes such as tax breaks or shared revenue on every EOR-produced barrel may be a way to lower the nett CapEx costs enough for oil producers to implement projects. The offshore environment also adds extra barriers to success in that various chemicals are on the ‘red’ or ‘yellow’ (or UK substitution) list. The cost of using environmentally-friendly ‘green’ chemicals offshore can be prohibitively expensive and may kill a project from the start. Is it possible to review and amend regulations to be focused on protecting the environment and maximizing recovery for EOR projects so that the maximum prize in both areas can be realised?

This session aims to look at the various schemes currently in existence and try to come up with novel ways of de-risking projects through governmental and regulatory incentivisation.