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. In December 2015 the company entered into a sale and purchase agreement with EnQuest Britain Ltd to acquire blocks 28/2b and 28/3b, which comprise Licence P1996, the transfer of this interest remains subject to Oil and Gas Authority approval. Since award, block 28/2a has been relinquished. The company has also been offered the award of blocks in the 29th Seaward Licensing Round.
P2244 contains the Pilot and Harbour heavy oil discoveries which together have 272 mmbbls of oil in place, whilst P1996 contains the Narwhal and Elke discoveries which make up a further 225 mmbbls of oil in place. The 29th award area 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 2,000 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, Feugh, Elke and Narwhal are single well discoveries, Narwhal has good 2D coverage, whilst Elke, Blakeney & Feugh have been surveyed 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 on the Western Platform could recover in excess of 300 mmbbls and be one of the most important North Sea projects in the coming decade. Exploration success at Bowhead and Titchwell could increase recoverable reserves in the region to over 500 mmbbls.
We believe that the first phase of implementing this plan should be a demonstration project which proves that steam flooding can be effectively implemented offshore, and enables us to learn the best way to steam flood in the offshore environment before committing to a large scale development.
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.