News editor Oil and gas output from the UK’s North Sea fields could be enhanced with the help of targeted maintenance spending, an IMechE event will hear this week.

Britain’s oil and gas industry is the focus of an event taking place this Thursday that will look out how output can be increased in the North Sea by 10 per cent.

The event comes at a time when the industry is under its first review in 20 years, and the publication a report from by Deloitte highlighting the current strengths and weaknesses within the industry.

Taking place in London, IMechE’s event sees ABB Consulting’s Alan D’Ambrogio, vice president oil and gas, and Andy Hollins, lead principal consultant, discuss the advantages of targeted maintenance spend and how this could lead to increased production.

Currently, increased investment in asset integrity and process safety has led to a drop in oil production equal to 0.5m boe (barrels of oil equivalent)/day, which translates into a loss of around $18bn per year in revenue.

The event comes a week after Deloitte published its findings into oil and gas production across North West Europe over the past year.

According to the business advisory firm, the number of fields that began producing in the UK was at its highest for five years, rising 44 per cent in 2013, the highest number since 2008 when 16 fields were brought on-stream.

Government incentives to the industry were evident also with 84 per cent of the 13 fields brought on-stream qualifying for tax allowances.

Exploration took a hit, however, with 47 exploration and appraisal wells drilled on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) in 2013, compared with 65 in 2012. Deloitte point out that during the same time scale the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS) saw a 41 per cent increase in drilling activity.

Sir Ian Wood was commissioned by DECC in June 1013 to review offshore oil and gas recovery and regulation. By November he’d released an interim report in which he outlined how an additional £200bn could be added to the economy by delivering at least 3‐4 billion boe more than would otherwise be recovered over the next 20 years.

To get to this stage, Sir Ian said the Treasury, the industry regulator within DECC, and the industry itself must, ‘adopt a cohesive tripartite approach to develop and commit to a new, shared strategy of Maximising Economic Recovery for the UK (MER UK) to maximise the huge economic and energy security opportunity that still lies off the UK’s shores. This will involve more collaboration and more proactive and involved stewardship.’

This includes further incentives from the Treasury, and the creation of a new regulatory body tasked with working with industry to develop and implement strategies in areas including exploration and infrastructure.

The complexity of North Sea oil and gas exploration and production gives way now to new challenges and opportunities in the military and manufacturing sectors with two events highlighting advances in both.

David Willets is to deliver the keynote speech at the Autonomous and Advanced Systems Showcase, an event taking place at Southampton University today that will give attendees an insight into the university’s expertise in aerospace, marine and defence systems.

The tail end of last week saw David Cameron and French President, Francois Hollande sign a two year unmanned systems feasibility study worth £120m and this week, Team Taranis is providing an update on its Taranis Unmanned Combat Aircraft.

The technology demonstrator - being delivered by DE&S, GE, Qinetiq, Rolls -Royce and BAE Systems - has been designed to asses the feasibility of a stealthy, long-range  unmanned aircraft capable of precision strikes.

The class of aircraft the platform belongs to is seen by one engineer as pivotal to the UK’s future aerospace capabilities.

Speaking to The Engineer in August 2010 Simon Howison, engineering director, BAE Systems Military Air Solutions said: ‘In terms of our front-end design, our concept work, all the initial systems design – the only place I have to keep those skills alive is in the UAV business. In order to keep an indigenous UK engineering capability that can actually design an aircraft, I need the UAV business. Otherwise I’m just going to gradually lose the skills it’s essential to keep – not only so you can do another aircraft but to maintain the support of things such as Typhoon.’

Finally, Germany’s efforts to become leaders in implementing Industry 4.0 will be discussed tomorrow at the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Industry 4.0 is an attempt to align manufacturing, web science, IT and embedded electronic sectors and Prof Henning Kagermann, president of acatech, Germany’s national academy of science and engineering, will deliver a presentation on how Germany plans to exploit it.

The organisers say the event is intended to ‘provoke debate in the UK about its own manufacturing strategies, and to galvanise stakeholders from different UK industry sectors to work closer together around similar objectives.’