Boost for new technology
Money is starting to flow in a three-year technology programme with Statoil participation which aims to make more new Norwegian fields profitable.
This government-backed Demo 2000 scheme is to fund pilot projects being pursued by suppliers and research teams to qualify new technological solutions for specific offshore fields and areas.
About NOK 60 million of this year's NOK 100 million grant was allocated last week, with the largest pay-outs for projects related to processing.
Financial support from the authorities will be matched by contributions from the oil companies and the supplies industry.
"By taking part in Demo 2000, we expect to get more out of the money we spend on technology development," explains Helge Hatlestad. He is Statoil's representative in the steering committee for the programme.
"We'll be trying to speed up the development of technical solutions we need in order to achieve cost-effective field developments."
Funds will be used to qualify sub-components in relevant solutions, he says. This will allow competing suppliers to come up with better products.
The rest of this year's money is due to be allocated later, and the size of further grants will be discussed in connection with next year's central government budget.
Projects covered by the programme will be largely concentrated in such areas as reservoir management and drilling and well technology.
Other priority subjects include downhole and subsea processing, deepwater technology and systems integration with the emphasis on unified field solutions.
The largest number of applications for the first round of awards have come from drilling and well technology, but the success of processing-related projects this time reflects their maturity. In the longer term, the balance between the various categories will even out.
Small fields in the Viking Graben South and Sogn areas of the Norwegian North Sea could be relevant "laboratories" for qualifying processing solutions, says Mr Hatlestad.
Experience from Norsk Hydro's recently-launched Troll pilot project on subsea processing in the North Sea will also be valuable.
New technology could later open the way to platform-independent field developments in the Halten Bank South and Ormen Lange areas of the Norwegian Sea, and on Statoil's Snøhvit gas discovery in the Barents Sea.
No funding has been awarded initially for deepwater technology, but plans call for an industrial seminar to be held on 5 October. This will include companies and others which have suggested projects in this area.
"We'll be building our future activities on experience from earlier deepwater programmes, both off Norway and in other parts of the world," says Mr Hatlestad.