Gold award for Heriot-Watt research project



(l-r) Professor Mehran Sohrabi and Jeremy Cresswell

An awards ceremony celebrating 50 years of the North Sea oil and gas industry saw one of six inaugural Gold Awards made by the Press and Journal going to a joint industry project (JIP) led by Professor Mehran Sohrabi and his team in the Centre for Enhanced Oil Recovery in EGIS.

The Gold Awards judging panel were unanimous regarding the huge strategic importance of low salinity EOR....
Jeremy Cresswell

The project, which received the Innovation in the Future prize, aims to maximise oil reserves from the North Sea by injecting low-salinity water to extract valuable remaining oil from existing fields more cleanly and more cheaply than has previously been possible.

As Professor Sohrabi was unable to attend the ceremony in Aberdeen, the prize was presented to him and his team at the University’s Edinburgh Campus by Press and Journal Energy Editor Jeremy Cresswell. “So much of the future of the North Sea lies in raising hydrocarbon recovery rates from existing fields through the imaginative application of EOR (extended oil recovery techniques).

“And lo salinity seawater is emerging as a front-runner, thanks to pioneering work by BP, which is already making provision for use of the technology in its greenfield Clair Ridge development West of Shetland.

“Having reviewed the current status of future innovation for the North Sea, the Gold Awards judging panel were unanimous regarding the huge strategic importance of low salinity EOR to the UK Continental Shelf and, at this time, particularly the JIP led by Professor Sohrabi.”

Professor Sohrabi said that he and the team were delighted at receiving the award, which would encourage their efforts as they enter the second phase of their work to recover remaining oil in North Sea reservoirs, estimated to be at least fifty percent of the original reserves.

“There are great challenges in extracting it using Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) techniques. These include limited platform space and large well spacing, making extraction too expensive to pursue. Low-salinity water injection is relatively inexpensive and can be economically implemented in the North Sea reservoirs. It has the potential to make a huge impact on the current output of the North Sea’s oil production.

“This award is a great stimulus to the team as we continue our work, which we believe offers a massive leap forward,  offering a process which is both relatively inexpensive and cleaner, as it removes the need for potentially toxic chemicals."