Norwegian roadmap for Research Infrastructure

Petroleum Technology

Relevant infrastructure is essential to develop new solutions for necessary efficiency and restructuring in the petroleum sector. In addition, it is important to be able to take advantage of the great opportunities that lie in technology transfer to other sectors. As just over a half of the reserves remain to be produced, there is still a significant value creation potential on the Norwegian continental shelf.

Research objectives

The status of petroleum research activities, including scientific opportunities and challenges, reflects an objective to manage Norwegian petroleum resources in a sustainable, environmentally friendly and safe manner. This can be done by employing new technologies that make petroleum production more cost- and energy-efficient and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Government's Long-term plan for research and higher education 2019–2028 (Norwegian content) (Report No 4 to the Storting (2018–2019)) emphasises investment in petroleum sector research, development and demonstration that will help to increase value creation and ensure safe, cost-effective and sustainable utilisation of petroleum resources. Research activity under the portfolio for the petroleum area (managed by the Portfolio Board for Petroleum) targets knowledge, expertise and technology that can lead to new Norwegian oil and gas discoveries, development and production. Petroleum production must be carried out in a way that maximises recovery of the petroleum present in each deposit or in several deposits combined. Petroleum research is intended to enhance value creation for society by ensuring that petroleum resources are utilised optimally within an environmentally sound framework and by strengthening the Norwegian supply industry’s competitiveness in the global market.

The Oil and Gas for the 21st Century (OG21) strategy organisation is an important policy adviser for the Research Council’s targeted petroleum activities. The OG21 strategy document highlights four thematic areas:

  1. Energy efficiency and the environment
  2. Exploration and increased recovery
  3. Drilling, completion and intervention
  4. Production, processing and transport

We expect increased investment in research and technology development going forward aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from offshore petroleum activities. The Government’s Long-term plan for research and higher education also underscores the need for continuous knowledge development in order to maintain the highest level of HSE in petroleum activities.

Existing research infrastructure

In 2016, Rystad Energy conducted an analysis for OG21 and the Research Council’s DEMO 2000 programme to identify national and international opportunities to demonstrate new technologies relevant to the oil and gas industry in Norway. The results show that there are many test centres, both private and public, but that researchers face unresolved challenges in learning about and gaining access to the facilities, especially the private ones. In the case of subsea technology infrastructure, the report points out that the available test facilities are almost all private. Their availability, moreover, is of course more limited than would be the case for public facilities. Rystad Energy’s report highlights the importance of the Ullrigg and Multiphase Lab infrastructures, which receive Research Council support.

Drilling and well technology

As the leading national research laboratory in drilling and well technology, Ullrigg will play an important role in efforts to increase recovery on the Norwegian continental shelf. This will be done by improving well construction, developing new drilling techniques and quicker, safer and cheaper operations, better adaptation of technology and equipment for robust conditions and developing new solutions to increase recovery.

Although the Norwegian continental shelf is thought to have several decades of production remaining, decommissioning plans for older production wells are needed. New methods of well plugging that do not require large installations could reduce Norwegian state costs significantly. It will also pave the way for the Norwegian supply industry in an international market. The test facility Ullrigg is currently being expanded with infrastructure for researching and developing technology related to completion and abandonment of wells in the new Norwegian P&A Laboratories.

The simulation environment OpenLab Drilling has now been completed with funding from the Research Council. This infrastructure is based on computational models for simulating realistic data from drilling operations and is easy to access online. At OpenLab, simulations can be done via a web interface, in a physical simulator at NORCE and at Ullrigg.

Multiphase technology

Norwegian multiphase technology has had an enormous impact on the Norwegian oil industry and hence on Norway’s economic development. Funding allocated to the Multiphase Lab (IMF) project has been important to maintaining international competitiveness. The project’s main objective is to establish unique new laboratory infrastructures for advanced experimental studies that are relevant to the oil and gas industry and focus on multi-phase pipeline flow and flow assurance.

Environmental technology

Infrastructure providing knowledge about the marine environment is important for petroleum activities on the Norwegian continental shelf. The Lofoten-Vesterålen Cabled Observatory will give researchers and other users access to marine data in an important geographical area and provide a sensor platform for new and existing technology. It will play a significant role in the further development of ocean monitoring in Norwegian waters.

A Norwegian Coastal Administration test facility in Horten is one of several that ensure the continued development of oil spill preparedness on the Norwegian continental shelf. Each year in the North Sea, new technology is verified during the Oil on Water exercise. This generates important knowledge and results for further research and technology development. In December 2019, the Ministry of Transport and Communication also decided to establish a new test centre for oil spill response and marine pollution as part of the Norwegian Centre for Oil Spill Preparedness and Marine Environment’s activities.

Need for new infrastructure, upgrades and/or coordination

Future infrastructure needs involve laboratories and data capacity for research as well as pilot and demonstration facilities where new technology can be verified and demonstrated. The following examples of infrastructure needs are drawn from the OG21 strategy and suggestions provided by the research community:

Digitalisation

Digitalisation is widely needed in the petroleum industry and is expected to bring about major savings for the industry and reduce the impact on nature and the environment. A need has therefore emerged to research and develop technologies that exploit increased volumes of data from many different suppliers. The need is present in technology disciplines throughout the petroleum industry value chain, including data collection, data processing, data quality, data integration, decision-making support and data security for enabling automation, autonomous and ICT technologies.

Improved geological knowledge to lower costs and expand reserves and resources

Among the relevant research infrastructures that improve insight into the bedrock are those that accommodate experiments and analyses, geophysical imaging methods and infrastructures to exploit digitalisation, machine learning and large amounts of data. This need covers infrastructure that can elucidate research questions from the pore scale to large scale in nature (fields, basins). This will provide opportunities to increase the reserve and resource basis on the Norwegian continental shelf and lead to more precise exploration, better development solutions and cost-efficient operation of existing fields. The infrastructures must be tied directly to the development of production systems that are as sustainable and as environmentally friendly as possible.

Environment and safety

The environment and safety are areas distinguished by broad-ranging and interdisciplinary research groups. These fields are important for the petroleum sector, and their transfer potential to other sectors is large. The Government’s Long-term plan for research and higher education refers to a particular need for basic and applied research to prevent major accidents and improve HSE measures. Such research requires common national platforms, registries and databases. A report from Konkraft (2018) showed that actors on the shelf see few conflicts over sharing of HSE data, so there is great potential to establish standards and protocols for storage, exchange and use of data in these areas. Access to research infrastructure dedicated to safety and the environment can help to reduce the risk of major accidents on the Norwegian continental shelf and increase knowledge about important environmental aspects.

Emission reduction measures for activities on the Norwegian continental shelf

In 2020, Konkraft launched a new climate strategy towards 2030 and 2050 related to future energy industries on the Norwegian continental shelf.7 In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from its own activities and pertaining offshore maritime activities, Norway’s oil and gas industry will establish a new and forward-looking energy industry on the Norwegian continental shelf that includes offshore wind farms, hydrogen and carbon capture and storage projects that facilitate major emission reductions in Norway, Europe and the rest of the world. Necessary measures to this end include energy efficiency and electrification. Priority areas in energy efficiency are energy-efficient processing and more efficient reservoir management. Infrastructure that enables the development of more autonomous and automated technology and experimental investigations of more complex fluid and rock systems that facilitate more integrated energy management will form an important research basis.

Interface with other areas

Norway has long experience in the field of service life extension and materials selection for offshore installations. Service life extension and product design of industrial input factors are very important in a circular economy, where the goal is to optimise sustainable natural resource utilisation by keeping offshore installations and infrastructure in operation as long as possible and facilitating recycling and reuse when service life is over. An investment in laboratories where advanced lifecycle testing can be carried out will be of use in many sectors well beyond offshore petroleum, including offshore wind, marine and maritime industries, processing plants, bridges and port facilities.

Hydrogen technology and hydrogen production from natural gas will be part of the energy system of the future. The introduction of hydrogen in many areas of society requires extensive safety measures. Infrastructure related to safety in hydrogen transport and standards for handling hydrogen are therefore crucial, as well as regulations for hydrogen storage to avoid risk of explosion. It is essential to establish infrastructure for testing and validation of technical specifications and for developing modelling methods.

Norway is well positioned to capitalise on this emerging global market due especially to its significant natural gas production and future full-scale CO2 capture and storage (CCS) in Norway. Norwegian industry has a strong involvement in the world’s first full-scale CCS value chain in the Northern Lights project. The project could be the first step towards an international central carbon storage facility on the Norwegian continental shelf. Research and technology development to increase energy efficiency and realise the use of renewable energy sources to power offshore platforms represent significant contributions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from activities on the Norwegian continental shelf. This therefore entails opportunities for cross-sectoral cooperation and expertise/technology transfer between the petroleum sector and a number of other disciplines and business sectors, such as renewable energy.

E-infrastructure for simulating complex dynamic processes online are relevant to other areas that involve predictive analysis and regulation techniques. Application programming interfaces (API) for simulation, storage and sharing of data can be adapted to other areas where prediction and system management are relevant, and where realistic computational models have been or will be developed. Examples are carbon capture and storage, energy systems and wind power production.

RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURES RELATED TO PETROLEUM TECHNOLOGY

Project

Status

IOR Field Lab at Risavika – Filling the gap between core and field scale

Worthy of funding

Multiphase Lab (IMF) – National Research Infrastructure for Multiphase Flow  

Under establishment/in operation

NorPALabs – Norwegian P&A Laboratories

Under establishment/in operation

OpenLab Drilling*

Funding period completed/in operation

ULLRIGG – Upgrade of Ullrigg*

Funding period completed/in operation

OTHER RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURES ON THE ROADMAP RELEVANT TO PETROLEUM TECHNOLOGY

Project

Status

E-INFRA ved UNINETT Sigma 2 – a national e-Infrastrucure for science

Under establishment/in operation

LoVe – Lofoten-Vesterålen cabled observatory

Under establishment/in operation

OceanLab – Ocean Space Field Laboratory Trondheimsfjorden

Under establishment/in operation

* Infrastructures where the project period with Research Council funding has been concluded, or was scheduled to be concluded in 2019, do not have a separate project description on the roadmap. You will instead find a reference to the infrastructure's website or the Research Council's project bank.

[1] Konkraft (2020): Framtidens energinæring på norsk sokkel. Klimastrategi mot 2030 og 2050. https://www.norskoljeoggass.no/miljo/klima/veikart-for-norsk-sokkel/