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Thursday 06 Sep 18
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Denmark hosts Enhanced Oil Recovery conference

Production from the fields in the Danish part of the North Sea is declining. Several other countries face similar challenges. An international conference will address how more oil and gas can be produced.

For several decades now, Denmark has been an oil exporting country. However, production from the North Sea fields is declining. 2018 is likely to become the first year since the beginning of Danish production, with oil and gas imports exceeding exports. Thus, the background is one of concern as representatives of international energy corporations, authorities and researchers gather September 3-7 at the Schæfergården conference center in Lyngby.

“If we can produce just a few extra percent oil from the North Sea, the value will be billions of DKK and at the same time the Danish self-sufficiency could be sustained,” says Erling Stenby, Head of Department at DTU Chemistry and representing Denmark in the Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) cooperation under the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Martin Rune Pedersen, Vice President for Total’s activities in Denmark, Norway, and the Netherlands, adds:

“Total remains fully committed to contribute to Danish self-sufficiency through continued development of the Danish North Sea. A part of this effort is technology investments that may raise the production rate in these complex fields. The effort takes place both internally in Total, and in close cooperation with the Danish Hydrocarbon Research & Technology Center (DHRTC) as well as Danish and international universities and operators. This is part of our motivation for supporting international cooperation such as the IEA-EOR conference.”

Enhanced Oil Recovery is a key part of the national strategy “The future oil and gas sector in Denmark” from July 2017.

“The strategy presents estimates of the amounts of oil and gas expected to be produced from known fields. 21 pct. of the known oil and gas has already been produced. According to industry estimates this percentage will reach 27 pct. If the technologies identified in the strategy can be developed further and implemented at commercial scale, it is estimated that production can be increased further to reach up to 34 pct. of the known oil and gas,” says Trine Sannem Mønsted, Head of Office at The Danish Energy Board.

 The world continues to crave oil

15 countries take part in IEA’s EOR efforts. They meet annually to exchange experiences. This year, Denmark hosts the conference at a time with EOR being more relevant than ever. Despite renewable energy transition efforts in several countries, the world will remain dependent on oil and gas for the next decades.

“New large fields are rarely found, while substantial risks are involved around fields at ultradeep waters or in the Arctic region. Therefore, interest in being able to produce more from the existing fields has become very high,” explains Torsten Clemens, Chairman of the EOR Executive Committee under IEA.

Torsten Clemens is Director of oil exploration and production at Austrian based energy corporation OMV.

Participation in the EOR cooperation in IEA is almost cost-free. No secretariat is maintained, and no joint research schemes are funded. The main activity is exchange of experience. The annual conferences allow the countries to obtain access to results from research activities and field trials which have often been highly costly and surrounded by some secrecy.

“Personal relations are important. Presenters at a conference will traditionally want to convey a nice image. But as a participant, learning of the hardships and obstacles in the various field trials and other projects is also very valuable. This is the type of information, you may be able to get through informal discussions,” Torsten Clemens remarks.

Danish value from the IEA cooperation

Martin Rune Pedersen, Total, stresses that significant progress has already been made over the last few decades:

“As production commenced at the first Danish field, Dan, in 1972, it was expected that only a few percent of the oil could be produced. However, during the 1980’ies new technology such as long horizontal wells and water injection raised production levels considerably. In certain fields we see production rates above 30 percent today. We continue to focus at raising the level through water injection optimization and development of new cost-effective EOR methods such as gas injection and injection of sea water with modified salinity.”

Denmark has taken part in the cooperation since 1987.

“As a relatively small player within oil and gas, the participation has been of high value to Denmark,” says Erling Stenby. “Over the years, large fluctuations have been seen in the prospects for obtaining Danish public funding for oil and gas related research. Still, we have always remained up-to-date on the latest EOR trends through the IEA cooperation.”

For DTU, the cooperation has led to long term collaborations with a number of world leading research institutions including Stanford University (US), Imperial College (UK), and IFPen (France).

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Oil and Gas Research at DTU

Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) is the term used for producing oil and gas with methods that are beyond water flooding and other standard methods. Among EOR techniques in everyday use globally are injection of steam, CO2, and other gasses including nitrogen. A relatively new and rising trend is to inject small amounts of chemicals which cause the oil to detach from the surrounding rock surface. However, none of these techniques are currently applied in Denmark. The oil and gas related research at DTU is mainly done in two centers. The Danish Hydrocarbon Research & Technology Center (DHRTC) is a national center focusing specifically at the Danish part of the North Sea, while the Center for Energy Resources Engineering (CERE) has an international focus and also include other applications besides oil and gas. DTU Chemistry takes part in extensive cooperation with both DHRTC and CERE.

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