The prestigious award for improved oil recovery (IOR) is the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) way of recognizing licenses, companies, projects or individuals that have created additional value on the Norwegian continental shelf through brave actions and plans.
Statoil, the operator, and the partners Petoro and Hydro, have through many years been working on ambitious plans to visualize all subsurface volumes inside, and even some outside, the license boundary lines that could lead to economic projects. They have taken bold steps, involving large expenditures, to ensure that they can implement plans within the limited time frame of a main field in decline. That includes drilling advanced wells to exploration targets outside existing fields, and on their way discovering additional reserves in new horizons. They have changed the way sand production is handled to allow further production increases.
Underbalanced drilling has also been used for the first time on the Norwegian continental shelf to implement a well on the Gullfaks field, aiming to produce oil that could not be recovered with conventional drilling technology. New methods to treat produced water have been tested, and possibilities of large reserve additions by massive water injection in the future have been outlined. Small satellite fields have been brought forward at the right time. The plan for development of Skinfaks and Rimfaks, forwarded for approval, is the most recent example.
Their long term plan still includes the possibility that a CO2 injection/storage project could become economically viable, in addition to environmentally beneficial. They deserve a lot of praise for their courageous efforts to define the many uncertainties that have to be nailed down. The upside potential still exists, but time is running out.
The license has increased the expected oil volumes from the main field from 210 million Sm3 in 1986 to 352 million Sm3 today. Their present target is 400 million or more. The satellite fields are now listed at 41 million Sm3 oil, and their target is 56 million. Several possible additions have been identified trough the excellent subsurface work performed.
We will not be surprised if Gullfaks comes up with more good news for our pension fund in the coming years. Motivated and intelligent teams at work, given "license to achieve" by their owners, can perform wonders!
The NPD considers they found the best recipient for the 2004 award among several good candidates. The industry is again working on the upside in existing fields, and we look forward to next year's list of candidates. We already have several projects just awaiting decision or final signatures in licenses.
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