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Enegi optimistic over unmanned buoy technology

A Scottish oil and gas veteran is confident of realising his dream of using unmanned buoys to bring a series of un-developed North Sea finds on-stream after winning an encouraging response from potential backers.

Alan Minty, chief executive of Enegi Oil, said he was in advanced talks with parties from whom he expects to secure enough funding to cover the costs of bringing one or more discoveries into production.

"I would say within another nine months all the funding will be put in place," the former Scottish squash international told The Herald.

An engineer who has worked with mining and oil and gas giants, Mr Minty believes he can use buoys developed by his ABT Technology business to transform the economics of a host of undeveloped discoveries in UK waters. In May last year, ABT Technology signed a strategic partnership with Aberdeen-based oil services giant Wood Group to commercialise the technology around an unmanned oil production buoy that could be used on marginal and end of life offshore fields.

Aim-listed Enegi plans to use buoys to perform the functions of an offshore production platform, or the like, for a fraction of the costs. Mr Minty believes using the buoys could allow Enegi to develop fields con-sidered too marginal to justify the expense of developing them using standard systems.

The company was boosted last month when it was awarded two North Sea licences in the latest UK offshore licensing round following an official vetting process. The blocks contain discoveries made by majors who did not develop them.

"Now it's all systems go because we've got the awards," said Mr Minty. He added: "We selected these licences on the basis we knew they could be developed quickly."

Based on recent discussions with potential backers, Enegi expects to be able to finalise a funded programme of work and a timetable for the start of work by the end of June next year.

Mr Minty said the company would work with Wood Group to develop plans for how the buoy technology could be used to develop finds on the licences it has won.

The buoys Enegi plans to use have been designed to sit just below the surface of the water, with an access tower protruding above.

They can be attached to wells on the sea bed. With facilities to separate oil and other products and to store the output, the buoys can also be used to re-inject gas into reservoirs to boost production rates or burn it to generate the power required for operations. They are expected to cost £60 million to £80m.

Enegi Oil also has interests around the Port au Port Peninsula in Newfoundland, Canada and the Clare Basin in County Clare, Ireland.

In June, the firm said it had increased the limit of an Equity Line Facility provided by financiers from £7.5m to £25m "to ensure access to capital in the event that its operating costs increase as a result of pursuing offshore assets in the UK North Sea".

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