Work is also being undertaken on production hardware. Improving separation techniques and especially environmentally acceptable water removal remains an on-going challenge as reservoirs get older. So called “Smart Well” technology is also being examined in terms of what it achieves in reducing production risk through better well monitoring and control. This technology is also being looked at as a means of reducing well intervention frequency and its general impact on safety and reduction in operating costs.
The modern offshore oil and gas industry also includes extensive use of ships. Scotland has had a significant influence on the development of both these systems through extensive research programmes. These have led to design standards being produced in Scotland being used globally in areas such as the design of floating production systems and anchor systems.
Scotland has considerable research expertise in ship stability and safety, hydrodynamics and complex marine structures such as tension leg platform. Many of today’s offshore subsea operations are conducted using remotely operated vehicles and Scottish researchers are working with new control systems for remote and autonomous vehicle design, control systems simulation, image processing and the use of digital video for navigation purposes.
A Scottish university is also recognised as a global leader in the design and development of composite material transducers for both civil and military sonar systems and has created a successful spin-out to commercialise the technology. It is developing similar technologies for the acoustic monitoring of rotating machinery as a means of providing the early detection of a potential failure.
Whilst research in exploration and production technologies is critical to ensure the ongoing availability of oil and gas resources it is equally important to understand the economics of oil and gas exploration and development. Hence, evaluating the effectiveness of R&D policies, the security of UK oil and gas supplies including gas storage and the economics of third party access to infrastructure. Alongside the economic aspects of the oil and gas sector there is also the important field of international business transactions and natural resources and energy law and policy which is also a topic for research in Scotland.