An optimisation model for incentivising the development of marginal oil and gas fields amidst increasingly complex ownership patterns: UKCS case study

Theophilus Acheampong* (Corresponding Author), Euan Phimister, Alexander Kemp

*Corresponding author for this work

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4 Citations (Scopus)
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Many recent discoveries in the UKCS have been economically marginal and comparatively small such that they cannot support standalone field development. Nevertheless, there is a proliferation of production facilities and transport infrastructure that can, on accepting a tariff, process hydrocarbons from these smaller-sized oil and gas fields, thereby contributing to the UK Government's strategy of maximising economic recovery (MER). However, the empirical dimensions of cost-sharing arrangements between a field owner (host field or hub) and tie-in (satellite) fields are not well examined in the literature
although they influence long-term economics in matured oil provinces. In this paper, we develop a mixed integer programming optimisation model to analyse how these third-party access to infrastructure issues impact MER in the UKCS. The first-best situation with only one regional operator is empirically compared with the actual situation of multiple ownership. We then assess the impact of different infrastructure unbundling provisions via pipeline tariff choices and their interaction with the fiscal regime on the net present value (NPV) and other metrics such as timings of hub and field shutdowns. We find that differences in field ownership, tariff choice and changes to the fiscal regime impact the
overall NPV of field developments. Our results also show that having a progressive fiscal regime in a mature basin such as the UKCS is important to support continued operations under low oil prices while increasing the government's take at high prices. The costsharing effect shows that imposing strict cost-sharing rules does not change overall project valuations, even in a low oil price scenario. An additional contribution to the extant literature is that tariff determination could be based on cost-sharing rules that enjoin each
field tieback to a hub to pay a split tariff, comprised of a fixed cost of service (access charge) and variable (marginal) costs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number109109
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Petroleum Science and Engineering
Early online date24 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

We thank two anonymous peer reviewers for the useful suggestions. All errors naturally remain the sole responsibilities of the authors.


  • Marginal fields
  • petroleum economics
  • mathematical modelling
  • oil and gas
  • MER
  • UKCS


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