Since confirmation of funding a year ago, the Oil & Gas Innovation Centre (OGIC) has established itself as a vital bridge between energy businesses and world-class research capabilities in Scotland’s universities.
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The past year has seen OGIC set up its Aberdeen headquarters, recruit its executive team and appoint a board comprising leading figures from the oil and gas industry and the academic community.
Since the official launch of OGIC in November 2014, 100 individual technology businesses have approached OGIC for support, 18 technology innovation projects are currently in discussion and four projects have been approved with the first project now complete.
OGIC provides a single access point to the knowledge and capabilities of Scottish universities for the oil and gas industry. It can part-fund and provide management support to projects with the potential to deliver technology solutions to the exploration, production and decommissioning challenges facing the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) and assist SMEs to identify other public funding sources. OGIC effectively links more than 2,500 oil and gas operators and service companies to 450 academic staff and researchers in Scotland working in oil and gas related areas.
Its focus is on technologies that will assist in the recovery of reserves in the UKCS with the main priorities being innovations relating to: improving exploration outcomes; well construction, drilling and completions; enhanced oil recovery; asset integrity and life extension; shale gas exploitation; subsea; product optimisation and decommissioning.
Since the beginning of 2015, OGIC has staged a fully subscribed innovation funding seminar in Aberdeen, participated in Subsea Expo, hosted an innovation centre pavilion during the ITF Technology Showcase and run two collaborative research workshops bringing Scottish academics together to tackle specific technology challenges.
OGIC chief executive Ian Phillips said that the shift in oil price since autumn 2014 had served to reinforce the need to accelerate innovation within the industry.
“We have had strong interest from industry since our formal launch in late 2014. The drop in the oil price has cast challenges facing the industry into sharp relief, increasing the need for us to work smarter and more efficiently. Technological innovation will be key to maximising the recovery of reserves in the UKCS and by accelerating the development of near to market technologies we aim to support innovations that cumulatively address the exploration, production and decommissioning challenges in the North Sea,” said Mr Phillips.
“By supporting collaboration between SMEs and the academic resources that exist in Scotland we can accelerate the delivery of new technologies to market. Our initial projects are demonstrating the logic of this approach and we anticipate that industry as a whole will increasingly look to near to market technologies as it seeks to work more efficiently.
“Our on-going engagement with industry in 2015 includes a series of events which will bring together the various parties involved in oil and gas innovation to ensure that businesses are able to make the right connections with academic partners and secure the maximum support available for their research and development work,” said Mr Phillips.
Hydrasun well intervention hose case study
The first OGIC supported project that has completed involved the testing of an innovative well intervention solution and saw Hydrasun partner with the University of Strathclyde.
Hydrasun is a leading specialist provider of integrated fluid transfer, power and control solutions to the energy, petrochemical, marine and utilities industries worldwide. The company has a track record for successfully delivering flexible hoses, hydraulic components, integrated instrumentation packages, umbilicals, extruded solutions and integrity management services worldwide.
Maximising the production of oil and gas from subsea wells is a critical activity in the oil and gas Industry as the number of new oil field discoveries diminishes. A key challenge is to keep the well, and its associated control equipment, clean and free from restrictions or blockages such as hydrates or wax, which can reduce production rates. This is traditionally carried out by performing a so-called light well intervention utilising a rig and steel coiled tubing to pump cleaning fluids into the well, the overall costs of which can be significant. A lower cost alternative is the use of a vessel with specialist deck equipment. However, further reductions in costs are critical, particularly in light of the current cost challenges faced by the industry, which has led to the accelerated development by Hydrasun of a well intervention hose that enables significant savings over conventional systems.
Hydrasun engaged with OGIC to support the development of this new technology and selected Strathclyde University to be its academic partner. The work proposed and carried out by Strathclyde formed the basis of an extensive qualification programme of this complex fluid transfer technology. The work involved destructive and fatigue testing of a number of samples to fully characterise their properties. The outputs from these tests provided Hydrasun with valuable information on the products performance capabilities over a range of simulated operational conditions. This work has also enabled Hydrasun to start early engagement with key customers performing well intervention activities, which will also help to inform, define and guide further qualification activities.
Ernie Lamza, chief operating officer at OGIC, said: “Production efficiency is an area where significant improvements can be made in the North Sea. The collaboration that we facilitated and supported between Hydrasun and the University of Strathclyde enabled testing of a new technology to accelerate qualification activities and open dialogue with potential end users.”
Ben Coutts Director – Engineering and Research & Development at Hydrasun said: “The funding process with OGIC proved to be incredibly quick and responsive and made the whole process very easy. OGIC was an effective and efficient partner supporting Hydrasun to develop this technology.”
Dr James Wood, of the University of Strathclyde’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, said: “Innovative design in flexible composite construction presents significant challenges, both in experimentation and simulation. However, the facilities and expertise we have at Strathclyde proved to be an excellent match for the initial qualification stages of this new product.
“This has led to a fundamental understanding of the construction’s complex mechanical behaviour. This fascinating research project with Hydrasun and OGIC has also generated further development ideas and practical projects for our final year Masters students, which is invaluable both for their career prospects and for our engagement with industry.”