M-I Swaco Wins International Platinum Award for Dunlin Oil Recovery Project

The M-I SWACO Production Technology group won the prestigious International Platinum Award at the Energy Institute Awards held in London, United Kingdom on Nov. 19 for their innovative technology, developed to safely extract oil trapped in the attic space of the subsea storage cells in the Dunlin oil field 150 mi (242 km) northeast of Lerwick, Shetland and 311 mi (500 km) northeast of Aberdeen, Scotland.

"The award acknowledges the success and endorses our commitment and ability to engineer solutions for the decommissioning market at a time when many operators are preparing their plants for cessation of aging assets," said M-I SWACO Worldwide Business Development Manager for Production Technologies, Charles Benson.

A world's first and the result of three years of intensive work, the Shell Dunlin Attic Oil Recovery project was unprecedented in its scale and complexity in the North Sea. It involved in situ gas generation within the cell structure of the North Sea installation. The aim of the project was to safely free the four cell groups of the remaining 1.5 million barrels of liquids, including 250,000 barrels of oil.

The patented technology displaces the crude oil layer to the level of the export pipe for recovery. Following complete oil recovery, the gas cap is absorbed using a scavenging system to fill the cells with seawater. The 76 supporting cells located on the seabed 495 ft (151 m) beneath the Dunlin platform are now full of seawater and free of oil.

Throughout the process, the risk of failure to deliver the technology was managed through close cooperation across the multi-disciplined team including Shell, DOF, Qserv, Stats, Aubin, Univar, Hutchinson, Ineos, LV Shipping and PD Ports.

The technology developed by M-I SWACO, now proven in one of the world's most difficult environments, will have significant application in the future, not only in the North Sea but worldwide.

The EI Awards, in partnership with Deloitte, acknowledge the contribution that energy professionals make on a daily basis and whose achievements stretch the boundaries of excellence and commitment to their work.

Previous winners of the International Platinum Award include Shell for the Brent Alpha redevelopment, ExxonMobil for the Link school program and Nexen for the Buzzard project.