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New research and innovation center to provide climate-friendly value creation on the Norwegian continental shelf

The Board of the Research Council of Norway decided on June 11 to grant SFI Swipa (Subsurface Well Integrity, Plugging and Abandonment) status as Center for Research-Driven Innovation for the next eight years.

Senior scientist Ali Taghipour, SINTEF, prepares an experiment for investigating how cement pumped into the casing annulus displaces the fluid initially filling the annulus.

The center will gain a scientific understanding of permanent well barriers and improve the methods for well plugging. Successful innovation in this field will save Norway considerable amounts.

- More than 3000 wells on the Norwegian continental shelf must be plugged when production is completed, and the cost of this can amount to up to NOK 800 billion. The tax rules on the continental shelf imply that most of the expenditure is accrued to the Norwegian state. One of SFI Swipa's goals is to halve these costs, says Harald Linga, research manager at SINTEF and director of the new center.

Increased scientific understanding of the subsurface will produce results that can also be used for landfill nuclear waste, conversion of petroleum wells to CO2 storage and well integrity for geothermal wells.

SFI SWIPA is a platform for innovation, and strong interaction within the center will generate spin-off projects and technology transfer opportunities for the industry, while the center will educate 11 doctorates, six post-doctorates and 30 master's degrees that will bring industry new expertise.

- This is fantastic news. Equinor is ready to play an active role in the center with the other operators. We are impressed with the job Sintef has done in connection with the application, an SFI award is very prestigous. With an ever- increasing expectation of cost reductions within P&A, I am very pleased that this initiative has become a reality, says Fredrik Varpe, Manager Drilling and Well Technology in Equinor.

About the Center for Research-Driven Innovation (SFI)

The overall goal of the Centers for Research-Driven Innovation (SFI) scheme is to contribute to strengthening innovation capacity and increasing value creation in Norwegian business through long-term research. The scheme is managed by the Research Council of Norway and the centers are allocated by the Research Council's board. Each SFI-center receives NOK 12 million annually over eight years. The SFI scheme requires companies to participate in the activities of the centers.

- We know that when we systematically link business and research together, this is often the start of new Norwegian industrial adventures. This is the gold recipe for how we build world-leading business environments. High confidence, short distances and systematic interaction between business and research is a good Norwegian value creation model, says Alexandra Bech Gjørv, CEO of SINTEF.

Rationale for the award

The evaluation of SFI Swipa's application for center status states, among other things, that "The Center responds to several of the UN's sustainability goals, in particular Objective 9 (Innovation and Infrastructure) and Objective 13 (Stop Climate Change). The largest contribution comes from reduced energy consumption and reduced emissions to air through more efficient operations, as well as knowledge related to the ability to subsurface storage of CO2 without risk for leakage to the atmosphere.

The center will help develop the industry to meet future challenges. Thousands of wells will be plugged at the Norwegian continental shelf, with huge costs for the industry and the Norwegian state (covering 79% of the cost of P&A). The field has received considerable attention for several years, but the research and introduction of new methods have not kept pace with the growing need in the industry. The theme has become one of the biggest challenges facing the business community as the Norwegian shelf matures more and more.

Research activities are also being expanded to address other areas of energy and industry. "

Contact:
Harald Linga, Center Director for SFI Swipa and Research Manager in SINTEF Industry
Stein Mortensholm, Director of Communications for SINTEF Industry

Published 23 June 2020
Research Manager