The challenge of finding, developing and operating Arctic oil and gas fields is one of the upstream industry’s most pressing issues, with a new event being launched in Russia to identify and discuss emerging technology needs and how to accelerate their adoption and implementation.
The SPE 2011 Arctic & Extreme Environments technical conference and exhibition will be held in October next year in Moscow. The 3-day event will feature an exclusive conference, including daily plenary sessions featuring world-renowned speakers and a mixture of panel discussions and technical presentations.
The industry peer-reviewed conference will address technical challenges for Arctic and extreme environments, with particular emphasis on current onshore Arctic operations and the specific challenges faced offshore, such as those being tackled by the owners of the multi-billion dollar Shtokman gas field currently in its development phase in the Russian sector of the Barents Sea.
With several of the world’s leading oil and gas-producing countries forging ahead with plans to find and develop new resources in their Arctic territories, the need to advance and refine technologies and procedures so that the region is developed in a safe, environmentally responsible and commercially viable manner is paramount.
The event is being organised “in response to industry needs and growing demand” by the respected industry partnership between Reed Exhibitions and the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), which is already responsible for the established biennual SPE Russian Oil & Gas Exploration and Production technical conference & exhibition in Moscow, being held next week.
Estimated 90 billion barrels of oil lying in Arctic territories
The E&P industry has of course been exploring and producing oil and gas from Arctic environments for many decades, both on and offshore. However, exploring and operating there remains extremely technically challenging.
Russia, Canada, Norway, the United States and Denmark are all focused on the eventual and further development of their Arctic territories, both on and offshore, all drawn by an area estimated by the U.S. Geological Survey organisation to hold up to 90 billion barrels of oil and 30% of the world’s undiscovered gas resources.
The industry has many research projects underway studying potential solutions such as ‘on-ice seismic’, which offers an alternative to open water marine acquisition for near-shore shallow water operations. This essentially allows companies to acquire seismic in areas of shallow water when they are frozen, without disturbing local wildlife.
There are also joint industry projects such as that lead by the SINTEF research institute, to develop advanced clean-up techniques. Experiments are being carried out on ways to detect oil in ice, burn oil in broken ice, and disperse oil in broken ice. And in Alaska, Shell is developing a specialised shallow-water containment system.
Industry experts have long stressed the need to transform the forecast resources of the Arctic, amongst others, into real production resources as soon as possible. However the eventual development of Russia’s Arctic oil fields, for example, remains a serious challenge for all those companies involved.
Technologies will have to focus on expanding the window of opportunity on the Arctic shelf, usually icebound for all but 3 months of the year. This will mean in particular a need for technologies that can increase operating times, such as platforms that can continue operating in icy conditions, and the building of subsurface structures for safe operation of subsea wells. There is also a requirement for newbuild ice-class tankers, underground facilities for the treatment and pumping of oil, and the need for immediate and constant monitoring of the well sites.
Event Director Vasyl Zhygalo of Reed Exhibitions commented: “Building upon the success of our SPE Russian Oil & Gas technical conference and exhibition series in Moscow, and thanks to the strong partnership between the Society of Petroleum Engineers and Reed Exhibitions, we are delighted to be launching SPE Arctic & Extreme Environments 2011. This will follow our established format of a highly technical conference and exhibition, and is in response to the growing demand from the global oil and gas industry for a world-class technical E&P event focused on the Arctic and surrounding harsh environments.”
The conference will be supported by an exhibition showcasing industry-leading companies demonstrating the very latest technology and Arctic operations. Student contests and workshops will also run alongside.
Next year’s event will be held 18-20 October in Pavilion 75 at the All-Russia Exhibition Centre in Moscow.
For more information go to: www.arcticoilgas.com
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