Asset Integrity Management: Mature Assests On Mature Fields

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It is a fact that 70 per cent of the world's oil reserves are located in mature fields - as things stand that accounts for in excess of 59 million barrels a day.

The challenges for asset integrity management in the mature field context are not dissimilar to those in nascent ventures. They are, however, more pronounced in their scope and urgency.

In mature fields, life-cycle management and life extension are of paramount importance. In the case of the North Sea, where more than half of the assets have outlived their initially conceived lifespan, and demand for product is still high, asset failure would mean a costly and untenable drop in production capacity. Therefore,ag an emphasis is put on production optimisation and the reduction of any downtime where possible.

Measures to ensure life extension in most cases would also be preferable to the other options available, to wit the abandonment of the asset or its complete or partial retooling and redesign.

In the case of assets more than 30 years old, the parts and sometimes the knowledge required to fit those parts may not be forthcoming, requiring hefty consultation fees and expensive bespoke manufacturing to solve the problem. For more niche-focused organisations like Talisman and Taqa Bratani, taking over old assets is more cost-effective than for most, with the Super Majors preferring to dump their ageing installations. Decomplexing, or the modification of existing assets to a small, more compact and cost-effective ventures is also a growing trend.

In the Information Age, where most of the complex electronic equipment we use - from televisions to mp3 players and mobile phones - is governed by the microchip, we take it for granted that it is only since the beginning of the 1990s that computers and computerisation have come into regular use.

Oil platforms commissioned and first crewed in the 1970s are replete with obsolescent technology, including process critical software with decades of legacy data in need of transformation.

Again, in order to bring these processes up-to-date and inline with current regulatory requirements, many companies are having to contract third party consultancies to formulate an implementation plan, or purchase software packages from bespoke providers and information architects.

Whatever the drawbacks of asset management in mature fields, one fact, however, still remains true: a mature field still represents a bona fide and concrete investment, even though, like the assets that stand above it, they are on a downward curve.