Government-supported initiative speeding
development of North Sea technologies
Goals include improved drilling, inspection efficiency
Editor, Europe T he Oil & Gas Technology Centre in Aberdeen is a new initiative working to foster innovation in the UK offshore sector and help the industry improve recover y of the North Sea’s remaining
resources. Of fshore spoke to Chief Executive
Colette Cohen about the Centre’s goals and
achievements to date, which include over
£ 15 million [$19.8 million] co-invested with
the industry, a program to fund and support
smaller companies develop their businesses
and promising new technologies, and the
recently opened Innovation Hub.
Offshore: What was the rationale behind
the formation of the Oil & Gas Technology
Centre, and when did the process of forming
the centre begin? Was this prior to Sir Ian
Wood’s proposals for MER UK?
Cohen: In his 2014 Maximising Economic
Resources review for the UK Continental Shelf
(MER UK), Sir Ian Wood made a number of
recommendations. This led to the creation of
the Oil & Gas Authority, a progressive new
regulator for the UK oil and gas industry. Sir Ian
also identified the need for a greater focus on
technology on the UKCS, which was the initial
inspiration for the Oil & Gas Technology Centre.
A business case for the Centre was de-
veloped as part of an Aberdeen City Deal
proposal, which was signed by the UK and
Scottish governments in November 2016.
With £180 million [$239 million] allocated by
the two governments under a 50/50 arrange-
ment, the Technology Centre received the
lion’s share of the £210 million [$277 million]
granted to the City Deal. Work to develop
the Centre began in late 2016 and it officially
opened for business in February 2017.
The £180 million funding is over a 10-year
period, with the requirement for this to be
match funded by the industry – either in-kind
or cash. So far, the Centre has invested more
than £ 15 million [$20 million] with 60% leveraged from industry partners.
Of fshore: Was there a clear plan from the
outset of the various initiatives that would
Cohen: The industry’s Technology Lead-
ership Board provided the Centre’s initial
five areas of focus – asset integrity, well con-
struction, marginal discoveries (small pools),
decommissioning, and digital transformation.
The Technology Leadership Board will con-
tinue to provide strategic input on key themes
and challenges. The Centre also has a Call
for Ideas process to identify solutions for the
challenges faced by the industry.
The Centre works with its members to
shape its work programs and focus areas, cre-
ating projects in partnership with operators,
service companies and technology providers
to accelerate the pace of new technologies.
Offshore: How many companies, academic
institutes provided input to the proposed Cen-
tre and its future direction?
Cohen: There was extensive engagement
with more than 50 institutions and industry
organizations during the development of the
Offshore: How many members does the
centre have at present, and what are the benefits of participation?
Cohen: The Centre has more than 50 mem-
bers. We have £180 million to co-invest with
our partners to get innovative technologies to
market quicker. Our members help to shape
the base portfolio of projects invested in by the
Centre, but the Centre also invests with many
non-members on projects which fit the Technology Strategy which supports MER UK.
There are four ways for companies to get
involved, and each one can combine in-kind
funding with cash funding in arrears.
Offshore: What is the purpose of the recently
opened Innovation Hub?
Cohen: This is a state-of-the-art facility,
opened by Scotland’s First Minister on October 2, to drive innovation and accelerate new
technologies to help unlock the full potential
of the UK North Sea. The Hub brings industry
and technology providers together, connecting
problems with solutions and solutions with
problems. By partnering with industry, academia and experts from outside oil and gas,
we help innovators make their ideas tangible,
prove the value of their concepts, and prepare
them for deployment in the oilfield.
Our program of innovation events and work-
shops is driven by the needs and priorities of
the industry. The Hub provides the tools and
techniques to stimulate and capture creative
contributions of participants, accelerating ideas
Offshore: Can you provide details of the Asset
Integrity and Well Construction Solutions Centres
and the types of projects under development?
Cohen: The Solutions Centres are based
at our Queen’s Road site in Aberdeen and are
teams of employees that manage the projects
the Technology Centre invests in. One of our
key projects deal with asset integrity. In partnership with Infinity Oilfield Services, we are
developing a safety solution that could save UK
North Sea operators up to £320 million [$425 mil-
lion]. The device, which includes Kevlar, would
contain corroded valve equipment to eliminate
the risk of an uncontrolled hydrocarbon release,
improving safety performance and potentially
extending asset life.
Apollo and Life Tech are developing a tablet-based, software solution for integrity manage-
The drillstem testing version of Raptor Oil’s advanced acoustic downhole modem tool. (Images
courtesy Oil & Gas Technology Centre)