Wind and Oil: Great Mix for North Sea

Wind cost crisis in the North Sea can be solved if the Government encourages oil companies to look “outside the box” and apply innovative solutions from overseas

Merlin ERD Ltd, a Scottish based market leader, says it has the key to unlock cost reductions which will protect jobs and make North Sea oil more competitive.  Merlin designs and drills the longest wells in the world.  These state of the art technologies and latest innovations, some borrowed from the aerospace industry, have allowed oil to be produced from reservoirs previously deemed uneconomic.

Lian HutchinsonIain Hutchison, Director of Engineering, said: “Over the past 7 years our company has developed innovative Extended Reach Drilling technologies which have enabled oil companies to extract oil from places previously thought impossible to reach.  This solution has been deployed on a global scale and could provide a vital lifeline for the North Sea wells.   Extended Reach Drilling can lower drilling costs, extend field life and increase ultimate recovery of our hydrocarbon reserves.   Our technology can exploit reservoirs at 12km and beyond from the wellhead position, often without prohibitively expensive subsea equipment.”

He added:  “Clever engineering allows existing infrastructure (platforms) to tap stranded reserves on the periphery of their reserves.  In true “can-do” approach, our engineers have repeatedly impressed me with their ingenuity at reducing drilling risk, time and cost to exploit hydrocarbon reserves.  I’ve lost count of the number of supposedly impossible wells that we have delivered.”

The award-winning engineer follows a rich heritage of Scottish engineers and entrepreneurs who would not take no for an answer. “We relish the difficult and view the impossible as merely an opportunity awaiting a solution.   Merlin ERD provides those solutions.”

Iain goes on to say: “At the moment we stand on a dangerous precipice – politicians are debating while Rome - or should I say in this case Aberdeen - burns.   If we lose the fantastic infrastructure that has been built over the past decades it will be lost for a generation and it will be impossible to make up the lost ground.  In a report to Scottish Government, it was estimated the value to the UK of exploiting difficult-to-reach oil could range from $250Bn to $1.2 Trillion.   If platforms become redundant and offline, a fortune in untapped fuel will be lost.  Billions of barrels of oil could be left in the ground.   Even before chasing new fields where the payback is much longer, there is a huge opportunity to fully capitalise upon the untapped reserves adjacent to the existing infrastructure. We have only seen the tip of the iceberg in job losses with the inevitable reduction in tax income on which our local services rely.”

Last year Malcolm Webb, CEO of Oil and Gas UK said UKCS (UK Continental Shelf) exploration was in a “parlous state” and said “we are just not drilling enough wells in UK offshore waters and those that we are drilling are not finding enough oil and gas.  This worrying trend has been growing for some time.”

Iain, who has represented UK government interests overseas commented: “I couldn’t agree more and urge Amber Rudd to take timely action to ensure years of intense investment in the North Sea is not lost forever.  Long distance drilling is carried out across the world and the North Sea must capitalise on proven technology.   The Germans are beating us in their world class wells and innovators in the Norwegian, Dutch and Danish sectors of the North Sea have the technical advantage.  We have British engineering leading the world with highly technical solutions in well bore stability and hole cleaning.  Success breeds success as drill crews gain confidence and the vital skills to take on another extended reach in the same well.   A simple, tried and tested solution.”

Advantages of ERD include:

  • Increased overall recovery and shorter time to first oil when compared to subsea alternatives
  • Ability to exploit a larger drainage area from one drill centre
  • Reduces environmental impact and infrastructure requirements
  • Unlocks associated deficiencies outcome


About Merlin ERD

This proven technology has evolved significantly in recent years with longer wells becoming commonplace in many parts of the world.  The company has carried out assignments across the globe in 34 countries gaining numerous awards and accolades for its technical and engineering excellence, including a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in 2014 and the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) ‘Best Small Company' Award in 2015.