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General Description

As many of the world’s more easily accessible offshore hydrocarbon deposits have been discovered and produced successfully over the past five decades, the industry has required itself to explore in progressively more inaccessible locations in its search for further oil and gas reserves. This search has precipitated a movement into progressively deeper waters, to the point where deepwater activity has, over the past ten years, evolved from a frontier activity into an intrinsic and strategically important element of most global offshore operator’s asset portfolios.

The growth and development of deepwater  (defined as water depths of between 500 and 1,499 meters) and ultra-deepwater (defined as water depths of 1,500 meters and more) activity is, and is expected to remain, a key element of the continued expansion of the offshore oil and gas industry. Furthermore, the significance of this activity has been heightened by the increases in commodity prices and growing concern over future reserves and supply The surge in deep and ultra-deepwater activity has fuelled a drive by many service companies to invest in adding deepwater capability.

Indeed, there is very little of the service industry that has not been touched directly or indirectly by this push to deepwater. In spite of this added capability it still seems likely that the industry is going to reach certain choke points, particularly regarding deepwater pipe lay and heavy lift capability.

At present, the ultra-deepwater exploration limits exceed those of ultra-deepwater production, which means that at certain depths, a successful find may be technically non-exploitable. However, the expectation is that with improvements in technology, understanding and the availability of equipment more and more finds will become economically recoverable, Thus, facilitating the continued growth of the deep and ultra-deepwater sector through to the next decade and beyond.

 

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