Innovation in the offshore sector

While it is impossible to accurately predict the economic future, one thing is clear in the energy supply chain - the art of innovation is going to be key. Indeed, state-of-the art technologies will continue to have a crucial role to play in maximising oil and gas recovery from ever more challenging environments and new offshore fields, and in driving down costs.

EICDataStream, the EIC’s database that tracks over 7500 projects across the global energy supply chain shows that there are nearly 1000 active and future offshore oil and gas projects at present. The most active areas in the offshore sector are Europe with 321 projects, the African region with 439 projects and Asia with 192 projects.

Growth areas

There are a number of potential growth areas for companies with innovative technology and the relevant experience.

Firstly, new technologies in the area of enhanced recovery have become crucial in helping the energy industry squeeze more out of aging oil basins and extending the life of some of the world’s oldest and most prolific fields. At the same time, they reduce the pressure for a quick exploration to production turnaround for operators looking to replace their reserves base.

New technologies are also playing a key role in the multi-billion dollar deep water exploration and production industry which is continuing to be fuelled by the development of new technologies capable of reducing operational costs and risks, as well as the finding of reservoirs with high production wells. Wells are getting more complex – deeper, hotter and higher-pressured, with ever increasing reach. 

Subsea processing

Another area where technology is making big strides is in subsea processing. Placing the separators, pumps and injectors on the seafloor enables operators to better determine production volumes at topsides, improve overall reservoir recovery, debottleneck offshore facilities experiencing high watercuts, and develop marginal fields surrounding a hub platform. The latest technologies include subsea solid-liquid-gas separation, subsea multiphase pumping and subsea water injection.

New areas of development

During the past few years, the development of shale gas has become an increasingly attractive proposition. This is due to major improvements in rock hydraulic fracturing technology, which is enabling gas to be teased out of shale deposits along horizontal boreholes. Breakthroughs in technology, particularly in North American gas fields, represent a new frontier for the energy industry. 

CO2 sequestration is another growth area having risen up the political agenda in the race for a low carbon economy. A good example in the UK is the National Grid, which is drawing up plans for a new business unit that will pipe CO2 emissions from UK power plants for storage in geological formations beneath the North Sea. Suitable storage sites include saline aquifers and depleted oil and gas fields. 


The above list is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of growth opportunities. As new projects come online, so will new opportunities to provide innovative solutions in the offshore sector.

Author: Mike Major, CEO, The EIC. 

As a leading trade association for UK companies that supply capital goods and services to the offshore oil and gas sector, the EIC is taking over 50 specialist member companies to the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston this year. The sheer breadth of world-class solutions being showcased at the UK Pavilion is testament to the innovation and manufacturing excellence seen in our supply chain and will play a crucial role in helping operators deliver greater economic value from their assets not just today but in the future to come.

Published on 18/03/2010

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