By Rob Grassick, chairman, Intervention and Coiled Tubing Association (ICOTA) Europe With the demand for energy sources becoming ever greater it is expected that that the oil and gas industry will push into new more remote, deeper and harsher environments to feed the world’s growing need for energy. Where does that leave mature provinces such as the North Sea? Certainly much of the region’s more easily accessible oil has been exploited, and when operating companies review their budgets and the costs of exploration and production around the world, the North Sea may look less favorable than some other areas. As you would expect from a mature province, the North Sea will never again see the levels of exploration it experienced in the 1970s. The future for the region depends more on intervention, of finding new and innovative ways to extract known reserves that have heretofore been difficult or uneconomic to access. With a will to fund and deploy new advancements in technology, coupled with a commitment to well intervention, there is still much to be positive about for the future. There is no doubt that more mature regions will have to continue to compete with lower-cost areas and increased legislation, both in compliance and regulation, and this will remain a challenge. On the plus side, the skills and expertise that we have developed in the North Sea over the years are recognized worldwide (Aberdeen is now recognized as the international center for subsea excellence, for example) and will stand us in good stead in the years to come. That experience, developed and honed over many years, will also continue to benefit the global oil and gas industry, as companies looking to exploit new harsher plays will require continual innovation in well and subsea intervention technology to maximize the exploitation of these new fields. Costs will continue to play a major part in well and subsea intervention; and complex and lengthy operations can carry with them significant risks. Market forces will dictate the cost and availability of subsea vessels which, if not utilized in the North Sea, are likely to migrate to West Africa or the Gulf of Mexico. In the post-Macondo environment, safety and competence programs, underpinned by legislation, will be paramount on a global level to assure that operations are carried out effectively while minimizing risk. For the intervention industry, the game has always been about the best way to maximize recovery, and in the future the emphasis will continue to be on “doing more with less.” As an example, minimizing in-hole well-time by the deployment of multi-purpose toolstrings would create significant cost advantages. Similarly, the use of multi-data collection instruments and systems, while ensuring objectives are achieved, would have significant advantages. Particular attention will have to continue to be paid to the important aspects of equipment integrity and functionality to assure operators of their obligations within the industry. An interesting development in recent years has seen the introduction of riserless, light-well intervention, and there are technologies being introduced to the market which are expected to “change the game” in terms of subsea wells. However there are currently less than 10 riserless, well-intervention vessels in operation. And, although these vessels may deploy the very latest technology, it seems difficult to see how such a limited number can satisfy global demand. Another issue is that there is not yet a vessel capable of routinely deploying coiled tubing for subsea intervention. Against that, while we may like the idea of the availability of coiled tubing as a solution, we have to ask ourselves honestly if there are enough wells out there that would benefit from its deployment. It is clear that there are many issues which are affecting the European oil and gas industry and particularly the intervention and coiled-tubing sector at this time – and ICOTA aims to help tackle them. ICOTA is a membership organization of professional well-intervention specialists who bring an unrivalled pool of intervention skills and experience. The organization shares this invaluable resource with other members through its technical events and its website. As an example of its activities, the organization recently held a one-day well intervention seminar in Stavanger, which was attended by more than 100 industry professionals. Technical presentations included explanations of a gas-lift system that allows recovery from stranded wells, the latest state-of-the-art downhole camera technology and a new generation of coiled-tubing units for offshore operations. As well as learning from technical presentations at such events, delegates find the networking with fellow practitioners at such events very useful. ICOTA’s next major forum for the exchange and sharing of information is the SPE ICOTA 17th European Well Intervention Conference in Aberdeen, U.K., on Nov. 15 and 16, 2011. It is open to members and non-members and the latest information can be found via the website Rob Grassick has worked in the oil and gas industry for the past 10 years from offshore engineer to various roles onshore such as operations engineer, sales, marketing and business development management. He has worked for Welltec, TS Marine and, since September 2009, TCO, a global provider of well technologies for the oil and gas industry. He successfully introduced to the field new technologies and applications to the industry in the well intervention arena such as millin, and cleaning applications on electric line. Chairman since February 2011, Grassick has been a committee member for the ICOTA European Chapter for eight years and held positions as treasurer and co-chair.