From deep offshore reserves to unconventional gas resources, the industry is working hard to extract the worlds remaining energy resources using the safest and most cost effective methods and never has the work of the Industry Technology Facilitator, ITF, been more crucial. ITF plays an important role in developing pioneering tools and technologies to unlock these reserves. Established in 1999, ITF is a not-for-profit organisation owned by 23 major global operators and service companies. Its key objectives are to identify technology needs and implement new technologies.
To date ITF has been responsible for delivering 151 new collaborative and revolutionary oilfield technology projects to the market, securing direct membership funding of more than 50 million. Recognised globally, ITF is unique in that each technology challenge which is addressed has been specifically identified by its members so it represents a targeted approach to overcoming technological hurdles; indeed, its membership contributes up to 100% funding for these projects.
ITF is not bound by geographical limitation. So, unlike other programmes that are mainly funded by governments, ITF has the ability to engage with industry and facilitate work on new technology developments on an international platform.
In 2009, the organisation celebrated its tenth birthday and commissioned a report by the respected industry economist, Professor Alex Kemp, who is based at Aberdeen University. The study took an overview of the organisations performance over the last ten years, looked at the effectiveness of the ITF process and considered ways in which it could improve.
Overall, the findings of the report were positive, highlighting the expanding membership, the number of new technologies that have been delivered and the value that ITF gives its members. Developing technology through ITF allows its members to spread the risk and cost of research and development (R&D), enabling expenditure to be allocated more effectively and expertise and knowledge to be shared.
The report also revealed that the strategy of increasing membership and going global was working with 82% of ITFs members coming from outside the UK. The study found that ITF had been effective in bringing new and relevant technologies to the UKCS and to the oil and gas industry more generally. Broadly, sponsors and developers were satisfied with the outcome of the funded projects in terms of the results of the research and the timeliness of completion of the work. The increase in field trials and comparable work was commended and recognised as having the most positive effect on production.
Neil Poxon, managing director of ITF said: It is clear from Alex Kemps report that the ITF process is redefining the way in which major research developments take place across the entire industry. Our ability to act independently from governments and provide up to 100% funding from our members for proposals that get the go-ahead sets us apart from other organisations.
As the sector strives to access the worlds oil and gas reserves it is essential that research and development projects not only address global challenges, but are sufficiently refined to achieve a real impact on the problems identified by the industry. The ITF process has been of real benefit to our international members and the global R&D community as it identifies the barriers, provides a collaborative stage on which to work and ultimately delivers innovative technology that is aimed at resolving some of the industrys most pressing problems.
ITF has been holding a series of international technology challenge workshops during 2010 where members and the R&D community can meet to explore in detail activities in which the industry faces technological barriers. The topics identified for discussion by ITFs membership in 2017 were:
- Tight gas, shale gas and coal bed methane
- Drilling efficiency
- Completions technology
- Produced fluids management
- High pressure high temperature production
Each of the workshops results in the release of a global call for proposals inviting the R&D community to respond with innovative ideas that address the particular challenges identified.