An essential part of Statoil's plan for operating shale gas and tight oil activities is taking the time necessary to build a foundation that ensures we can do the job properly.

Getting ready

"We are building the US onshore organisation by employing three basic principles - strong technical expertise, clear working practices and high standards. These principles, along with effective support to achieve standardisation where appropriate, will enable us to move quickly and operate as efficiently as possible. We also maintain a strong relationship with high-quality suppliers," says Torstein Hole, Statoil senior vice president in Development and Production North America, US onshore.

To improve recovery, reduce costs and lighten our environmental footprint, we have developed guidelines to ensure the selection of established supplier companies with excellent track records that reflect our HSE standards.

"It's all part of our foundational approach," Hole says. "We want to work with well-run, financially stable companies that use modern equipment, who employ good people, and who take care of their people."

Staying focused

Working with reliable suppliers lets us focus our attention on developing other operational facets.

"We get more time to work on efficiencies, like reducing well cycle durations from, say, 55 days to 25 or fewer days. Your costs go down proportionately, you get your wells drilled and on line faster, you use less water, your economics work better and you accelerate production," says Hole.

Once basic operational efficiency gains are established, HSE and other practices are usually easier to synchronise - thus making the whole operation more manageable.

Stable development

Statoil is known for its long-term approach to pursuing the development of its assets.

While many other companies react to short-term market conditions, Statoil endeavours to steer a stable course.

Stability has its rewards. Indeed, our sustained focus on finding technological solutions has helped us to become a technology leader. Statfjord, our largest oil field in Norway, is a classic example. Brought on stream in 1979, Statfjord should have shut down by now based on original projections. Because of our sustained focus on increased oil recovery - and injections of gas and water to maintain reservoir pressure in particular - Statfjord is scheduled to keep producing until at least 2020. It is estimated that 66% of the field's oil and 71% of its gas will eventually be recovered. That is 14% more oil - totalling more than 591 million extra barrels - and 17% more gas than originally planned [1].

"We are a technology-driven company, and when all of the foundational parts are working right, we're able to really leverage that technology," says Hole. "Using technologies without all the fundamentals in place never really works."

Time to act

Statoil's team in North America is now striving to translate our intrinsic characteristics into actions.

"We have a mission to deliver production in a cost-effective and efficient way and do it responsibly with respect to health, safety and environment. If we can do this, year in and year out, then we have a sustainable business because there are decades of shale gas and tight oil development and production operations ahead of us," Hole says.

Note

[1] Statfjord late life and Statoil petroleum technology manager Anne Grethe Hansen, "Jeg har funnet et reservetall for olje fra 1979 på 572 MSm³. Dagens reservetall er på 666 MSm³. Differansen: 94 MSm³ eller 591 M fat.", internal email, 31 Jan.