ABERDEEN’S Oil & Gas Technology Centre predicts that its new industry-backed “Facility of the Future” initiative could halve the cost the cost of developing and operating an oil and gas facility and help unlock more than 3.5 billion barrels of reserves in marginal discoveries on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS).

The initiative will develop lower-cost and reusable facilities that are operated remotely from onshore control centres. Designed for minimal manning and with the latest automation technology, it will reduce the need for people to work in the offshore environment and create new, skilled onshore jobs.

Chris Pearson, small pools solution centre manager at the not-for-profit R&D organisation, said that smarter and more automated ways of developing oil and gas fields were required to fully unlock marginal discoveries and maximise economic recovery from the UKCS.

“Oil and gas is playing catch-up with many industries when it comes to automation and remote operations,” he said. “We’re exploring how the combination of existing and new technology can be best used in the offshore environment to improve safety, reduce life-cycle cost and increase efficiency.”

Existing approaches to developing marginal discoveries such as a fixed platform or floating vessel are not economical and many are not within economic tieback distance of existing infrastructure, Mr Pearson added.

The initiative is starting with a multi-partner study led by Crondall Energy subsidiary Buoyant Production Technologies to develop a floating facility concept that expands the capabilities of fixed normally unattended installations (NUIs). NUIs are typically used for shallow water gas fields.

Other Facility of the Future projects are said to be in the pipeline.