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New research center will contribute to improve oil production and provide safer drilling

IRIS and SINTEF together with the universities in Trondheim (NTNU) and Stavanger (UiS) have just established an international Center for Drilling and Wells for Improved Recovery in cooperation with major oil companies. The objectives are to contribute to improve Norwegian oil production and safety levels.

From the opening of the center in Stavanger. Left to right: Kjell Arne Jacobsen, SINTEF Petroleum Research, Aslaug Mikkelsen, University of Stavanger, Minister Tora Aasland, Anna Aabø, International Research Institute of Stavanger (IRIS) and professor Sigbjørn Sangesland, Norwegian University of Science and Technology . Photo: SINTEF / Alf Ove Hansen, Scanpix.

The opening was made public at a press conference at ONS on Wednesday 25 August 2010.

The Minister for Research and Higher Education, Tora Aasland welcomed this strategic alliance between the leading R&D groups in Trondheim and Stavanger and the oil companies.

In her speech the minister underlined that she has high expectations about the new research center for Drilling and Wells for Improved Recovery.

Referring to the Gulf of Mexico catastrophe

“ According to Norwegian authorities (NPD), further advances in drilling and wells are the most important areas to hinder the rapid decline in oil and gas production from the Norwegian Continental Shelf. Internationally the recent oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico also underlines the importance of continued and reinforced focus on technology in drilling and wells in order to maintain and continue to improve safety for personnel and the environment in future oil and gas activities. Drilling and well technology should also provide the foundation required for the knowledge needed in future research into renewable sources such as geothermal energy", said Tora Aasland.

"We have high expectations"

The Minister underlined that the independent research organizations together with the universities in Trondheim and Stavanger play an important role internationally with more than 300 scientists in the petroleum sector and unique laboratories and full-scale facilities that have an R&D volume of about NOK 500 million a year in activities related to exploration and development of oil and gas resources.

“We have high expectations when these scientific research groups coordinate their resources with the major oil companies. The Government is positive to this initiative”, said Tora Aasland.

SINTEF with its headquarters in Trondheim, IRIS in Stavanger join forces with the Norwegian University of Science and Technologies (NTNU) in Trondheim and at the University of Stavanger in establishing the new Center. The Center is working on cooperation with leading international universities and research institutes. 

Significant savings

More than 50 % of the annual costs on the Norwegian Continental Shelf are related to drilling and wells. The annual cost of drilling and wells totals about NOK 75 billion (USD 12.5 billion).

The oil industry and the R&D institutes estimate that there is huge potential for financial savings. For example, during the drilling of wells it is estimated that over 40 % of the rig time can potentially bring significant savings and increase operational performance. This means avoiding the implicit problems in drilling and thereby giving improved safety.

Drilling and wells together with well architecture are the most important technologies for further improvement of the recovery rate in oil and gas fields. The average recovery rates for Norwegian oil fields are 46 %. The Center has the stated goal to work with the industry to raise this to 56 % at a first stage and on the long term, increase this to 66 % (or “Route 66”). There are significant economic gains here, a mere 1 % increase in recovery rates on the Norwegian Continental Shelf represents about NOK 100 -150 billion (USD 16-25 billion) in net value, according to NPD.

The founders of the Center will work in close cooperation with the authorities NPD, PTIL, MPE and the State oil company Petoro together with some of the major oil companies on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.