Getting more out of the North Sea

A new research centre was opened at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), with support from a DKK 1 billion investment by Maersk Oil and its partners in the Danish Underground Consortium, to look at ways of extracting more hydrocarbons from the Danish North Sea.

DBU
The new research at DTU (Technical University of Denmark) aims to identify technologies and concepts that can boost oil and gas extraction from the Danish North Sea, one of Maersk Oil’s main business areas.

About the Danish Hydrocarbon Research and Technology Centre

  • Based at DTU in Lyngby, the centre will maintain close research collaboration with the University of Copenhagen, Aarhus University, Aalborg University and the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland
  • The Danish Underground Consortium (DUC) has committed DKK 1 billion to the centre over 10 years. DUC is a joint venture between Maersk Oil, the operator with 31.2%, Shell (36.8%), Chevron (12%) and the state-owned North Sea Fund (20%)

There are significant volumes of oil and gas under the Danish part of the North Sea – the question is how to get them out in a cost-effective way.

Part of the solution may be the Danish Hydrocarbon Research and Technology Centre, employing 100 researchers and inaugurated this month with DKK 1 billion backing from the Danish Underground Consortium (DUC) joint venture of Maersk Oil and its partners in the Danish North Sea.

The research centre aims to identify technologies and concepts that can boost oil and gas extraction from the Danish North Sea, one of Maersk Oil’s main business areas where it is aiming to extend production, and attract the best and brightest young talents into the industry. These could include improved processes for recovering hydrocarbons and more advanced drilling and production designs and concepts.

“This will create a whole new research dynamic,” said Anders Bjarklev, president of DTU, which hosts the centre.

There are significant volumes of hydrocarbons in the subsurface of the Danish North Sea, but recovering them is technically complex and requires innovative solutions such as horizontal drilling and parallel well trajectories to help extract as much and as efficiently as possible.

Best and brightest minds


Maersk Oil operates oil and gas production facilities in the Danish sector of the North Sea as part of the DUC, with Shell, Chevron and Denmark’s North Sea Fund (Nordsøfonden).

By helping to educate more highly qualified technical experts who have the skills to maintain assets and develop extraction of reserves, it will also give Maersk Oil a deeper well of talent to draw upon in its recruitment.

“A key challenge will be to identify and mature meaningful research projects to enable the ambitious spending,” Maersk Oil CEO Jakob Thomasen told the inauguration.

“I am confident that there are plenty of ideas in this room today and I am looking forward to learn about the first meaningful projects solidly targeted at improving recovery in a commercially viable way.”

Bo Cerup
“Our ambition is that we will break new ground in research and technology,” Cerup-Simonsen told the inauguration. “We’re going to explore new territories.”

Work will focus on four areas

  • Reservoir characterisation
  • Enhanced oil and gas recovery processes and concepts
  • Drilling and production technology design and concepts
  • Production facilities and material research and design

The Maersk links to the centre extend beyond funding, extraction and recruitment – it will be headed by Bo Cerup-Simonsen, a former DTU academic and career engineer. He has led research and industry integration efforts for over a decade, most recently as head of Maersk Maritime Technology, the company behind the world’s most energy efficient container vessel, the Triple E.

“Our ambition is that we will break new ground in research and technology,” Cerup-Simonsen told the inauguration. “We’re going to explore new territories.”

A good investment


Maximising efficiency in such areas of strength is an important part of Maersk Oil’s aim to grow production to 400,000 barrels per day by 2020, provided investments give a return of at least 10%. Recovery rates in the Danish part of the North Sea are expected to level off at about 26% of the total volume.

Each percentage point increase in that rate would add about DKK 70 billion in production value, according to the Danish government, and that helps its tax income as well as providing jobs.

And Denmark still needs its oil and gas production, as renewables do not yet provide enough power, said Rasmus Helveg Petersen, Minister for Climate, Energy and Building.

“The oil industry in this country is something to be proud of,” said Petersen. “For many years, we are going to need a steady supply of oil and gas. Potentially, this research centre can become a very cheap investment.”

Rasmus Helveg
Rasmus Helveg Petersen, Minister for Climate, Energy and Building in Denmark, arrives to the inauguration together with Anders Bjarklev, president of DTU.