Technology and innovation are an intrinsic part of Maersk Oil’s approach to hydrocarbon recovery. Today, with the industry under unprecedented pressure,
we continually look for new, more efficient ways of doing things. Here we
present a small selection of some recent innovations.
Why innovation matters
Maersk Oil has a long history of finding new solutions to difficult challenges. Originally this was driven by the need to produce oil in low permeability reservoirs, later by the desire to increase recovery. Over the years the company has built an impressive toolbox that makes us highly competitive.
Today, with the industry under increasing pressure, the need for innovative thinking is more important than ever.
Across our work, we continuously look for new solutions that can help us to work faster or more cost-effectively, allow us
to tap previously inaccessible reserves,
or enhance safety.
Maersk Oil’s genius lies in its ability to find improvements where others may see no opportunity at all. Sometimes these are dramatic step changes. More often they are small, incremental improvements which, over time, add up to something transformational.
During the last year many of the projects in our technology portfolio have taken significant steps forward – both large and small. Here’s a small selection of these projects.
For more detailed information see our recent ‘Innovations Bites’ annual report.
How parallel computing built a smarter reservoir simulator
In 2013 Maersk Oil began a collaborative R&D project with a company called Ridgeway Kite to develop a new general purpose reservoir simulator. From day one, this ‘6X simulator’ was coded to use massively parallel systems, exploiting every possible opportunity to run calculations simultaneously on different processors. It’s already clear that this new simulator can often outperform today’s commercial simulators.
Our simulator has introduced a number of innovative features:
The simulator is already fast and is still being optimised for speed.
NVIDIA Tesla P100 High performance GPU
A new way to clean a subsea well
In 2016, production from a subsea well in the North Sea went into a severe decline. The well’s screens needed cleaning urgently, and the standard solution was to move a massive semi-submersible rig into position and to use coiled tubing. But this is both expensive and slow, so a whole new solution was needed.
The problem was how to get an acid/breaker fluid down to 9,300 feet.
We decided to deploy a coil hose from a light well intervention vessel (LWIV). The problem was that nobody had run a hose from a LWIV before, or into a subsea well, or any deeper than 2,000 feet. That didn’t deter us. After creating several new hardware pieces, the job went flawlessly – and the production rate immediately doubled.
Sealing the cracks in mature fields
When a fracture opens up between a water injection well and a neighbouring producing well, production falls. We have been working with a small startup company called CannSeal to find a way to plug these fractures.
The CannSeal tool brings epoxy down the well in sealed canisters, perforates the well liner, orientates injection pads around the perforations, and then squeezes epoxy behind the liner, forming a plug. This groundbreaking repair method could mean hundreds of thousands more barrels of oil recovered per year from mature fields.
Injected resins and annular isolation
Why better geomechanical models mean longer lasting wells
As oil and gas reservoirs are depleted, they and the rock around them change shape, and this can threaten ongoing production. Maersk Oil’s Geophysical Technology (GT) team is using real world measurements to improve computer models of these changes, so we can predict dangerous movements before they occur.
The GT team uses its own proprietary software to analyse seismic measurements taken at different times to predict overburden deformation. The success of these groundbreaking predictions means they can be used to help ensure new wells avoid high-risk areas. But the team hasn’t stopped there. It has developed a novel geomechanical modelling approach which could help us understand changes within reservoirs during hydrocarbon production, allowing us to manage the field better.
A ring of maximum overburden deformation (in green) derived from 4D seismic measurements in the Tyra field
Secrets of chalk’s microscopic structures
The larger-scale properties of a porous rock controls the amount of hydrocarbons a reservoir can contain, how fast it can be produced, and how much will be left in the reservoir. However, ascertaining these properties involves an expensive process of obtaining core samples of rock.
Now a pioneering new approach is using high-resolution X-ray tomography at the nano level (nanoCT) combined with computer simulation. Only small chalk samples are required, reducing the need for expensive core samples. The project may unlock some of the currently stranded discoveries in chalk.