NEW ORLEANS – The major transitions moving deepwater oil and gas operations forward over the past 30 years were the topics in the keynote address at the opening plenary session of the 2011 Deep Offshore Technology International Conference & Exhibition in New Orleans.
With this year marking the 30th anniversary of DOT, Stan Bond, VP Development – Offshore Americas and West Africa for conference host Hess Corp., took a look at how the industry has grown over three decades.
Bond divided these dynamic transitions into to broad categories – cultural and technological.
Under the cultural banner, he stressed especially safety, including also health and environmental issues, as “the first order of business for industry today” and added that one important driver of safety is engineering.
The trend now, Bond said, is moving from a management systems approach to behavioral-based safety. The next step, he said, is major accident prevention and mitigation. The challenge in this step is to identify and measure possible events and to preempt their occurrence.
As for technology, Bond noted that before 1981 offshore exploration and production was done in shallow water from fixed platforms with surface wellheads and using diver assistance. Since 1981, along with ever deeper water, the industry has seen the advent of floating systems, subsea trees, plus seabed separation and boosting.
He noted that until recently, drilling was possible in depths that exceeded the capabilities of production, but that the gap is narrower now.
Looking ahead, Bond pointed to the Hess Tubular Bells development in the Gulf of Mexico. Not only will the project use a floating production system in 4,200 ft (1,280 m) of water, but the commercial side has Hess and Williams cooperating to bring the project onstream.