Oil & Gas Innovation Centre launched in Aberdeen

At its official launch hosted by Hydro Group plc in Aberdeen last night (Monday, November 10), the newly established Oil & Gas Innovation Centre (OGIC) revealed that it now has its first approved and funded projects coming on stream and is in discussion with more than 50 companies regarding technology development opportunities.

OGIC says it provides a single access point to the knowledge and capabilities of Scottish universities for the oil and gas industry. It can also part-fund and provide management support to projects with the potential to deliver technology solutions to the exploration, production and decommissioning challenges facing the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS). OGIC says it effectively links around 2,300 oil and gas operators and service companies to more than 450 academic staff and researchers in Scotland working in oil and gas related areas.

Many of the 100 technology development projects which OGIC aims to support in its first five years will have North Sea applications and export potential. According to OGIC, they will share the common characteristics of being genuinely innovative and targeting solutions for real issues in the industry. OGIC’s priority areas are: improving exploration outcomes; well construction, drilling and completions; enhanced oil recovery; asset integrity and life extension; shale gas exploitation; subsea; product optimisation and decommissioning.

The first OGIC project has been approved with research already underway while three projects are in the final stages of approval. OGIC is open for further business and is engaging with the SME community to progress more innovative solutions, OGIC said.

“The OGIC model of linking entrepreneurs with ideas together with academia is the perfect mix to stimulate innovative technologies that will help unlock the future,” said Oil & Gas UK operations director, Oonagh Werngren.

Speaking at the launch, Fergus Ewing, Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism, said: “This new innovation centre will transform the nature of collaboration between industry, government and academic partners – providing new ways to deliver industry solutions, taking innovation to the next level. They are part of a cultural shift that brings the innovation and creativity of our academic sector to the heart of our business life and puts business drive firmly into the heart of our academic community.

“The launch of the Oil & Gas Innovation Centre, represents a very positive step in the right direction in ensuring support for operators and supply chain companies – allowing them to maximise the recovery of our significant hydrocarbon resources. We believe that innovation is key to maximising economic recovery from the UKCS and that therefore this must be an integral part of the work of the new regulator, who will require operators to demonstrate how maximum economic recovery can be achieved using innovative solutions and techniques.

“In turn, this requires a partnership approach from Government on fiscal policy, given that often innovative solutions such as EOR horizontal drilling tie backs will incur very substantial additional investments. Only through innovation will we reap the maximum value and ensure that the oil and gas sector continues to play a positive role in the Scottish economy,” said Ewing.

Ian Phillips, chief executive of OGIC, said: “OGIC has been established in response to industry need for a matchmaking service to bring innovative ideas and best in class academic resource together to get new technologies to the market quicker than ever before. Innovation is now one of the major priorities for the oil and gas sector locally and globally in order to maximise return from existing assets and to bring new, more challenging reserves into production.

“Our track record of innovation in the UKCS over 40 years and our academic strengths are a major competitive advantage at a time of significant challenges in our industry. We aim to drive the delivery of innovations that will contribute to the future success of the North Sea and that will create new export opportunities for our supply chain,” said Phillips.

Doug Whyte, Hydro Group managing director, said: “Innovation and pioneering research is essential in the oil and gas industry and has been at the heart of Hydro Group’s success since its inception three decades ago.

“We’re confident that OGIC’s access to technology support and partnerships with business and research organisations, will greatly benefit our future development. The relationship will hopefully assist in funding for technology and product development, focussing on addressing the needs of subsea systems for application in the oil and gas market,” said Whyte.

OGIC says that the Scottish Funding Council, which provided the initial capital for OGIC, has also welcomed OGIC’s transformation from concept through to delivery body in a matter of months.

Laurence Howells, Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council, said: “Having energy at the flick of a switch is something we all take for granted. It happens and carries on happening because of the efforts of the industry, the skill of the engineers and the ingenuity of innovators and researchers. Bringing industry and universities closer together, as part of our £124 million investment in Scottish Innovation Centres, will make a huge difference. Like all Innovation Centres, this partnership is focussed on what industry needs.”

OGIC’s launch and early-stage engagement within the industry innovation space have been strongly backed by leading oil and gas bodies, OGIC said in the press release.

Oil & Gas UK operations director, Oonagh Werngren said: “Over the past 50 years, the oil and gas industry has demonstrated an impressive capability for innovation and many new technologies pioneered on the UK Continental Shelf have been exported globally.

“Future discoveries and average field sizes will be more technically and commercially challenging so it is vital to encourage and sustain investment in technology to ensure the longevity of UKCS production over the coming decades. The OGIC model of linking entrepreneurs with ideas together with academia is the perfect mix to stimulate innovative technologies that will help unlock the future.”

Neil Gordon, chief executive of Subsea UK, said: “We look forward to working with OGIC to achieve real technological advances in our industry. Research and development in the subsea sector are critical to retaining our world-leading position and a major factor in being able to recover the world’s remaining hydrocarbons and securing energy supply.

“Subsea UK, through the National Subsea Research Initiative, provides a focal point for bringing forward the next wave of science, technologies and applications urgently needed to solve the increasingly difficult challenges of recovering oil from under the seabed.

“Fortunately there are a raft of niche subsea technology companies in this country who are developing or have developed products and techniques that are addressing these challenges and with whom OGIC can work. These companies are working at the cutting-edge, developing game-changing technology that will help our sector, which currently generates around £9billion per annum, stay ahead of increasing global competition,” said Gordon.

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