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OGTC pledges first cash for tech projects

Aberdeen-based technology developers to share in £1.6 million funding from centre

Three Aberdeen-based companies developing new technology to cut the cost of oil and gas operations are set to share in a £1.6 million ($2 million) first round of funding from the Scottish oil capital’s new Oil & Gas Technology Centre (OGTC).

OGTC chief executive Colette Cohen said the money would assist in the development of a new generation of drones to inspect oil rigs, ultrasonic technology to help manage asset integrity and a new type of joint to make drilling cheaper.

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“It’s exciting to be able to approve investment in our first three projects and look forward to helping these innovative companies take their concepts from early stage development through to deployment in the oilfield,” said Cohen.

The milestone comes less than six months after the centre was launched with £180 million of backing from the UK and Scottish governments.

The centre will work with Air Control Energy, an Aberdeen-based company looking to drive improvements in an advanced type of unmanned aerial vehicle that could inspect platforms 20 times faster and 50% cheaper than traditional methods done by workers using rope access methods.

Funding has also been pledged to help Trac Oil & Gas develop a new ultrasonic technique to cut the cost and time of inspecting pipework under insulation for corrosion, a key goal for the centre.

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Meanwhile, cash has been earmarked for a project with Deepwater Oil Tools to develop a special kind of articulated joint that could help drilling operations in rough weather, potentially saving millions of dollars

It also comes as North Sea companies, including several operators, have signed up to participate in OGTC’s so-called Solution Centres, which are focused on finding answers to challenges provided by industry, such as asset integrity, well construction, how to get economically marginal “small pools” of hydrocarbons into development, digital technology and decommissioning.

Total, Chevron and Nexen have become members of several of the centres, while information technology firms Resulting and Kippitech have joined the Digital Solution Centre.

Engineering specialist 1st CSI has, meanwhile, signed up to the Asset Integrity Solution Centre and subsea company Exnics has joined the Small Pools Solution Centre.

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Cutting the cost of inspecting and maintaining offshore infrastructure by 50% by 2021 was one of OGTC’s main ambitions when it was launched earlier this year with funding from the UK and Scottish governments.

Total and Chevron are also participating in eight individual offshore field trials to test new technology that will be completed by October.

Cohen said testing in a “live operational environment” was essential for getting new ideas to market.