The Steam Oil Production Company Ltd was established in early 2014, by petroleum engineers, with the intention of initiating the first major offshore steam flood project in the world.
The company participated in the 28th Seaward Licensing Round and in November 2014 was awarded blocks 21/27a and 28/2a under Promote Licence P2244. Since award, block 28/2a has been relinquished. The company was also awarded blocks surrounding the Pilot field in the 29th Seaward Licensing Round.
P2244 contains the Pilot and Harbour heavy oil discoveries which together have 272 mmbbls of oil in place. P2320 contains the Blakeney, Feugh, Dandy & Crinan discoveries which have a combined 147 mmbbls of oil in place, as well as the Bowhead and Titchwell prospects.
With the exception of the smaller Dandy & Crinan discoveries, all the oil in these fields is heavy and quite viscous, with API gravities in the range of 12º to 17º and viscosities that range from 160 centipoise to 1,200 centipoise at reservoir conditions.
Pilot, Dandy and Harbour are very well appraised with high quality modern 3D seismic and nine wells with additional sidetracks. Blakeney and Feugh are single well discoveries with modern 3D seismic.
Steam flooding is very effective at recovering heavy viscous oil, and recovery factors are much higher than water flooding alone can achieve. However, steam flooding works best in shallow reservoirs; Pilot is one of the few North Sea fields which meets all the conventional screening criteria for a successful steam flood, though the opportunity to maximise economic recovery through the application of steam flooding technology across the UKCS is substantial.
An integrated steam flood development of all of the discovered heavy oil fields in Steam Oil's acreage on the Western Platform could recover about 160 mmbbls and be one of the most important North Sea projects in the coming decade. Exploration success at Bowhead and Titchwell could double recoverable reserves from our licences.
We are currently working on the design of a phased development project of the Pilot field which enables us to confirm that steam flooding does indeed maximise economic recovery from these heavy oil fields whilst retaining the option to adopt a conventional hot waterflood recovery mechanism which we have also modelled, and which would recover about 70 mmbbls from Pilot & Blakeney.
This innovative approach to development of the UK’s heavy oil resources can make a major contribution to maximising economic recovery of North Sea oil from the UKCS. Steam Oil has assessed the suitability of a number of undeveloped heavy oil fields across the UKCS and concluded that there are about 7 billion barrels of already discovered heavy oil in place across the UKCS in shallow sandstone reservoirs suitable for steam flooding.
Steam Oil believe a widespread application of steam flooding could add about 4 billion bbls to the current estimates of remaining recoverable resources on the UKCS.