Deep water exploration changes service industry

Jul 23, 1997 02:00 AM

July 5, 1997 The oil services industry is currently undergoing a revolution with the development of oil exploration in very deep waters, according to the latest report from the French Oil Institute. Director general Olivier Appert said that this will lead to production rising from 1 million bpd in 1995, to 3.5 million bpd by 2000. He said: "In six years, the limits of deep water exploitation have been extended by 1,000 meters. Depth is no longer an obstacle, with projects operating in 2,000 meters of water and even 3,000 meters. Offshore hydrocarbon resources are becoming increasingly important to global energy supply. These hydrocarbon reserves in deep water (more than 200 meters) are estimated at 3.3 billion tons of oil equivalent (toe) for oil and 6.8 billion toe for gas. Offshore deposits now account for 90 % of proven oil reserves in Western Europe and the oil services industry has adapted rapidly to this factor. In 1994, only the leading 9 companies were capable of working offshore in the deep waters ofthe Gulf of Mexico. Today, 50 companies are operating in the area, having developed the necessary technological expertise, such as floating platforms, and devised new concepts for meeting particular exploitation constraints. The rising price of crude oil, along with increased investment in exploration-production over recent years and technological progress, are making deposits in ever deeper waters economically viable."
A further jump in the deep water production record is forecast for 1997, with the start of production at the Mensa field in the Gulf of Mexico, in 1,600 meters of water, and the Brazilian Marlim Sul field in 1,700 meters of water. Of the 700 sedimentary basins in the world, 240 are deep water offshore zones, and exploration has begun on half of them.
Appert said there remained considerable scope for the discovery of giant fields, an event that has become a rarity in onshore areas. The development of oil services companies offering integrated services, has been boosted by the major oil companies refocusing their activities in core areas.

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