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Oil and gas companies unite to drive Australia’s technology development

LNG Industry,

Major oil and gas companies have formed a dedicated cluster group to collaborate on identifying common technology challenges and potential solutions pertinent to the industry in Australia.

Established by global technology facilitator ITF, nine operators and international service companies including Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Shell, Total, Woodside, GE Oil & Gas and Siemens have joined the Perth based cluster group to fast-track investment into groundbreaking oil and gas technologies. ITF is seeking to secure A$ 9 million from the region to develop these groundbreaking technologies by 2015.

Australian technology companies will have the chance to respond to calls for proposals with up to 100% funding available for the right solutions. The ITF process is believed to boost collaborative working between oil and gas companies and technology developers. Members put forward the main industry challenges they want to be solved and technology developers then have the opportunity to fill these gaps through joint industry projects (JIPs). Some of the main issues the cluster will look at include subsea technologies, LNG, CO2 sequestration and unconventional gas.

Neil Kavanagh, Chief Science & Technology Manager at Woodside Energy, said: “Australia is a growing gas provider. It is expected to become the world's major supplier of LNG, as planned projects come on stream. Gas reservoirs in Australia share all the usual challenges such as recovery factor, development cost, safety and environmental impact, just like the reservoirs operated by the other ITF members around the world. We hope to learn and share best technology practices where working together is more effective than working alone.

However, Australia has its own set of distinct development challenges. Offshore Australian gas is in settings that are often cyclonic, deep water and remote, and gas here is mostly exported as LNG. The company is looking to ITF to bring Australian based operators together in the region and increase the amount of jointly funded research work – in an attempt to directly address Australian challenges.

The cluster group will meet every three months and there are also plans for ITF to host a Regional Technology Conference in Perth later this year. This will be a region-specific version of the organisation’s existing Annual Technology Conference where global industry players set their priorities for technology development in the year ahead.

There has already been significant engagement with companies in Australia. ITF has had membership in the region since 2007 and helped to establish the Pipeline Repair Operators Forum Australasia (PROFA) in 2010. PROFA’s objectives are to connect developers and vendors of pipeline technology with the PROFA members, to identify technology gaps in relation to pipeline repair and to purchase hardware and intervention tooling that would then be shared amongst participating companies.

ITF also hosted a Technology Challenge Workshop on subsea technologies in Perth last year before issuing a global call for proposals, which received 39 proposals from international developers.

Peter Brazier, Regional Manager for Australia at ITF said: “The regional cluster brings together key oil and gas figures to seek out common challenges and collaborate on funding new solutions. It gives local companies and academic organisations a fantastic opportunity to receive funding whilst retaining full intellectual property rights and gaining direct access to their target market.”

A not-for -profit organisation, ITF is owned by its operator and service company members and has launched more than 180 JIPs from early stage projects through to field trials and commercialisation.

Ryan McPherson, Regional Director of the Middle East and Asia Pacific at ITF, said: “With Australia facing its own localised oil and gas issues, the launch of the regional group highlights our commitment to supporting technology development in the country.”

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