LONDON – Since 2007, the minimum commercial field size (MCFS) for deepwater standalone oil developments has varied between 130 and 650 MMboe, according to consultant Westwood, depending mainly on the exploration play.
Joe Killen, analyst, Global Exploration & Production, said the oil price did not have significant impact on the MCFS because costs and development designs have adjusted to lower prices.
As a play becomes more mature, he added, with additional infrastructure is put in place, and as technology also matures, the MCFS tends to decrease while the MCFS range narrows.
Typically, the MCFS can be defined through economic modeling, but Westwood’s analysis suggests that in frontier and emerging plays in particular, there is a wide range between the smallest commercial field and the largest non-commercial discovery.
For its latest report, the consultant has applied its Wildcat Exploration and Appraisal modules to estimate the MCFS for standalone deepwater oil developments in Brazil, the US and Mexican Gulf of Mexico, and Ghana.
In Brazil the range of MCFS for the post-salt Albian and younger plays was found to be in the range 230-350 MMboe, while for presalt reservoirs it was roughly 100 MMboe, reflecting the increased development challenges.
The Upper Cretaceous turbidite play in Ghana’s deepwater Tano basin was shown to have an estimated MCFS for a standalone development of 300 MMboe.
In the Gulf of Mexico, the range for standalone projects worked out as 130-150 MMboe for the Miocene play, and 400-500 MMboe and 520-650 MMboe respectively for the emerging Norphlet and Wilcox plays, largely due to their ultra-high-pressure/high-temperature reservoir conditions.
Outside the US Gulf of Mexico the minimum size for commercial, standalone deepwater developments was found to be substantially more than 200 MMbbl.