Gulf of Mexico: Ultra-Deepwater. Amid low oil prices, does ultra-deepwater oil have a future?

Gulf of Mexico: Ultra-Deepwater. Amid low oil prices, does ultra-deepwater oil have a future?


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Executive Summary

Global oil price forecasts predict a slow crawl up to $75 per barrel, half of peak price. In response, major oil companies drilling in ultra-deepwater in the Gulf of Mexico have been forced to lower costs, improve efficiency and find more additional oil wells. The slump in oil prices has put the industry into difficulty, inciting concerns as to the long-term future and appetite for further exploration. For ultra-deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico to have a future the industry must undertake substantial reform.

Key Findings

Analyzes the reforms the ultra-deepwater oil industry in the Gulf of Mexico needs to undertake to improve cost effectiveness

Evaluates the potential new sources of ultra-deepwater in the Gulf

Identifies technological advancements which will help the industry survive low oil prices and remain safe

Reasons to Buy

Can the ultra-deepwater industry continue in periods of low prices?

What has to happen to reduce costs and boost viability?

Can ultra-deepwater continue pushing the limits and stay safe?

Key Highlights

The cost of oil is predicted to slowly rise, causing problems for the ultra-deepwter oil industry in the Gulf of Mexico. So far the industry has been too slow to adopt standardization and simplification to reduce the massive expenditure companies devote to new rigs and fields. Those companies which have standardized have found extensive savings amounting to over half the cost of a well.

To thrive in a period of low oil prices the industry must take advantage of new technologies which will reduce the costs and time required to drill into the Lower Tertiary layer in the Gulf of Mexico. Whole systems are being integrated into all-in-one setups and Project 20K seeks to develop the means to drill at previously unheard of pressures and temperatures. Such breakthroughs have the potential to allow the industry to prosper even during a period of low oil prices.

Another disaster on the scale of the Deepwater Horizon accident would surely hobble the industry to the point of being almost impossible to operate in. New versions of ROVs and BOPs are being developed which will keep up with ambitions to drill in ever more extreme conditions.



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Overview

Catalyst

Global outlook: Oil prices to remain low for immediate future

Rising oil prices offer solace but sky high prices are not likely to return soon

Low prices are forcing major players to cancel ultra-deepwater projects, endangering the future

Outcome of OPEC Vienna meeting uncertain-US ultra-deepwater oil would benefit from production cut

Declining Costs must continue to ensure market viability

Standardization replaces once rampant profligacy

BP halves the estimated cost of Mad Dog 2 development in Gulf of Mexico

Changing industry culture will drive cost saving efforts

Regardless of cost saving, future wells will shape long-term future

Lower Tertiary is the future of ultra-deepwater in the Gulf of Mexico-the industry must find ways to make it work

Shell experience points to strong future in Lower Tertiary, but unknowns remain

Technology is making ultra-deepwater cheaper and easier-it is not yet enough

Advances have lowered the breakeven price-a healthy future for ultra-deepwater beckons

Developments in pipe construction technology to improve ultra-deepwater safety and performance

BP Project 20k marks breakthrough in ultra-deepwater components

Dry-tree solutions for ultra-deepwater drilling in the future

Industry must maintain safety in drive for lower costs

Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV)-the second line of defense

Responding to failure: Blowout Preventer pressure rises

Government regulation will play major role in ultra-deepwater viability

ExxonMobil exclaim new regulations will cost industry tens of billions of dollars

Historically Congress supports tax breaks for Gulf of Mexico

Conclusion

Ultra-deepwater oil in the Gulf of Mexico can thrive but it must reform to do so

Appendix

Sources

Definitions

Further Reading

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Disclaimer

Figure 1: Global Oil Price Forecast ($)

Figure 2: Oil production, Gulf of Mexico (thousands of barrels per day)

Figure 3: Global Crude Oil Production 2000-2015, Thousand toe

Figure 4: Cost of producing a barrel of oil for top 6 oil producing countries, 2015

Figure 5: Mad Dog 2 Oil Field

Figure 6: The Lower Tertiary, Gulf of Mexico

Figure 7: Baker Hughes Hammerhead

Figure 9: General Electric Composite Pipe

Figure 8: Deepwater Dry Tree Semi system (DWDTS)

Figure 10: Circular Intensifier RAM Blowout Preventer (CIRBOP)

Table 1: Ultra-Deepwater, Gulf of Mexico Field Starts 2015

Table 2: Anticipated Ultra-Deepwater Field Starts, Gulf of Mexico 2016-17

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