Re-inventing the oil industry - New technology brings major improvements

The discovery of oil in the Ekofisk field in 1969 was the start of the Norwegian adventure in oil. Production started on 15 June 1971, and over the following years the industry developed and many new finds were made.

The discovery of oil in the Ekofisk field in 1969 was the start of the Norwegian adventure in oil. Production started on 15 June 1971, and over the following years the industry developed and many new finds were made.

This photo is not from the 70s, but from the demonstration of the Hydrophilic Logging Tool (HLT) at the Ullrigg Test Centre at NORCE in Stavanger at the end of August 2022.

“Big things are happening in the oil industry,” says Trond Rolfsvåg, founder and CEO of Hydrophilic. “The demonstration of the HLT was an important milestone in our work to launch this innovation in the industry. It is reminiscent of the pioneering days of the 1970s. With the same enthusiasm, and the fact that the world needs energy, we can draw parallels to the time back then when we found, and started producing, oil in Norway. And now we have a powerful reminder that the world needs more energy. The oil and gas industry has faced considerable criticism for its lack of sustainable solutions, but now there is a renewed focus on innovation that reduces emissions, environmental impact and costs by improving and streamlining operations.”

From discovery to field in record time Hydrophilic is developing technology that will significantly reduce the number of appraisal wells on the Norwegian continental shelf, while generating structural savings of several billion NOK per year for the oil companies. In addition, it will lead to a substantial reduction in environmental impacts. The Hydrophilic Probe can considerably shorten the time from discovery to productive field, with all of the advantages that brings. The technology will be ready for commercialisation in 2024.

A total of seven major energy companies have supported the development of the HLT, in addition to the Research Council of Norway and other partners. The company is now running Joint Industry Project 3 (JIP#3), in which the product will be developed further and readied for commercialisation. Equinor and Wintershall Dea are involved as supporters in JIP#3. Equinor Ventures is a part owner of Hydrophilic AS.

A sophisticated yet simple tool Back in 2016, Trond Rolfsvåg founded Hydrophilic to develop the Hydrophilic Probe. After six years of development, the product is nearing the commercialisation phase. While the technology involved is advanced, the idea is a simple one: by measuring the water pressure surrounding the well, Hydrophilic can calculate the oil-water contact, which indicates the size of the find. This kind of measurement has never been available to the industry before. In the laboratories and on the workbenches of NORCE and Aarbakke Innovation, the patented Hydrophilic Probe has gradually become more advanced, enabling it to make increasingly accurate measurements. The product has already gone through a demo phase in a well at the Ullrigg Test Centre at NORCE, as well as realistic workshop tests in a specially built test chamber at Aarbakke Innovation. Both tests were completed with great success.

Hydrophilic has also started a subsidiary, Hydrotell, to develop gauges to provide information about the water surrounding production wells. The gauges are installed in the wells, down in the reservoir, where they provide information about the location of the water in the field. This makes it possible to avoid undesired water production.

A sustainable solution that will save the industry billions.

HLT means considerable savings for both companies and society. A rig uses an average of 35 tonnes of diesel per day, a supply ship 10 tonnes of diesel per day, and it takes about 30 days to drill an appraisal well. According to Hydrophilic’s data, energy companies could use this new technology to save 220 days of rig operation each year on the Norwegian continental shelf. This is equivalent to an annual cut in emissions of about 32,000 tonnes of CO2 and 400 tonnes of NOx. In addition, the use of drilling chemicals will be reduced by approximately 44,000 tonnes. The total environmental savings will be even greater, as these calculations do not take account of the reduction in emissions from support vessels and helicopters. Internationally, the environmental savings are estimated to be ten times as much. “The oil industry has given the Norwegian people an incredible improvement in prosperity, and Norwegian engineers and professionals have helped to develop technology and knowledge that the world sorely needs. Hydrophilic is proud to be able to help make the world’s most efficient energy supplier – the oil industry – even more efficient and more environmentally friendly. We have an important job to do,” concludes Trond Rolfsvåg.