One of the most ambitious and complex developments in the North Sea, BP’s ETAP hub, is celebrating 20 years of production, with the man at the helm celebrating more than most. Colin Reid fulfilled a long-held dream when he joined the ETAP team, a dream he hopes long continues
Colin Reid was 21-years old when an article in the local paper altered the course of his career.
“It described this new exciting development called the Eastern Trough Area Project (ETAP). What that project was doing had never been done before and I wanted to be a part of that,” he said.
“I applied and unfortunately it wasn’t to be at the time.”
However, that initial set back didn’t dissuade the Aberdeen-native and now father-of-four from carving out a successful career offshore.
Following an apprenticeship on the Miller platform, Reid went on to fulfil a number of roles throughout the North Sea before assuming the helm at ETAP, as it celebrates 20 years of production.
'It was a new way of working that brought BP and Shell together'
ETAP, often regarded as one of the most ambitious and commercially complex developments in the North Sea, comprises multiple fields with varying ownership arrangements sharing a central processing facility.
At the time, the individual reservoirs were not deemed to be commercially viable on a stand-alone basis, so the ETAP alliance was formed to develop the fields as one joint development.
“When ETAP was discovered, in that part of the Central North Sea, none of the discoveries on their own were economic, so it was a real collaboration. It was a new way of working that brought BP and Shell together,” Reid said.
'It's that can-do attitude in BP that I love'
“The subsea tiebacks and the central hub were new and innovative. It wasn’t being done anywhere else in the North Sea.
“BP was willing to try something different and pursue a new way of working to make ETAP happen. It was open to working with other businesses. And ultimately, BP and its partners pulled together to overcome a very complex problem and made ETAP work. It’s that can-do attitude in BP that I love and it’s one of the reasons I love working for BP.
'It's the people that make any installation'
“Now as installation manager it really is an amazing feeling to celebrate this facility and milestone. Twenty years on we’re still producing. But we’re also excited about new projects and developments coming to life. We can see life for the field into the 2035s and maybe into 2040.”
That collaborative spirit transcends the technology and underpins the comradery of ETAP, according to the industry veteran.
“It’s the people that make any installation,” Reid said.
“The people on ETAP create a soul and make it a place you want to work.
“My favourite memory is a run that we did as a team for one of the mechanical technicians. His son has a condition called Poland Syndrome. We came together and did the Great Aberdeen Run last year and raised £10,000 for charity.
“The team rallied for a cause that was near to our hearts, and that’s what I like about ETAP – everyone coming together to deal with adversity whether it’s inside work or outside work.”
It’s a legacy he hopes continues well into the North Sea’s future.
When ETAP came on stream in July 1998 it was originally estimated to produce for just 15 years. However, a $1billion investment programme in 2015 breathed new life into the hub, securing its future well into the 2030s.
Reid said: “If we could keep the hopper of opportunities going, wouldn’t it be great if we’re having the same conversation about ETAP’s future in 2050.”