Hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation West of Shetlands
J. A. Austin, S. J. C. Cannon, D. Ellis, 2014. "Hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation West of Shetlands", Hydrocarbon Exploration to Exploitation West of Shetlands, S. J. C. Cannon, D. Ellis
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The oil and gas industry has been active in the West of Shetlands area for the last 40 years, but less than 200 wells have been drilled and only four fields have been developed. In the last ten years activity has picked up significantly with very active licensing rounds and increased drilling; however, the challenges of the complex geology and deep-water location, environmental constraints and commercial considerations have also increased at the same time. To fully develop the region successfully an attitude of compromise and collaboration between all the stakeholders must be nurtured, but with the scale of investment required this will remain a challenge for the future.
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This volume addresses the challenges facing explorers and developers alike in a region that is becoming a major focus of the petroleum industry in the United Kingdom, Faroes and North Norway. Several West of Shetland fields are still in the appraisal phase almost a decade after discovery. Sub-volcanic exploration risks remain high: sub-volcanic structural traps are imaged poorly, and so the geophysical community is responding with the application of latest technology. The more simple reservoirs might not be large enough to prompt informed and speedy development decisions; larger fields might have a combination of complexities, requiring a phased approach to the development. Infrastructure has been slow to arrive and planned developments have been subject to dramatic swings in fiscal regime ranging from special allowances to unexpected tax increases.
Environmental challenges are significant when moving into more remote, deeper water. The perception of these challenges by the third parties has become much more acute. To sustain its right to operate, the industry has to demonstrate safe drilling operations and appropriate response capability with government agencies.