Seismic activity increases

March 1, 2006
The growing optimism that permeated the seismic vessel market this time last year continues into 2006, but it is tempered with experience and the lingering memory of the industry’s challenges in the late 1990s.

The growing optimism that permeated the seismic vessel market this time last year continues into 2006, but it is tempered with experience and the lingering memory of the industry’s challenges in the late 1990s. That summarizes the findings ofTechnology Editor Ted Moon in his overview of the seismic sector that begins on page 53. The fleet reductions that were so prevalent in 2000-2004 have ebbed to the point that many companies maintained their fleet size from last year, or have begun adding to vessels. This has translated into one of the busiest years on record for seismic boats, with record-breaking backlogs and seismic demand expected to outstrip vessel supply in 2006 around the world.

If you are looking to commission a seismic survey, Moon reports, the general consensus is, get your order in now and expect to wait a while. In perhaps the biggest change from last year, the seismic vessel market is experiencing unprecedented backlogs for service, spurred, not surprisingly, by sustained high prices of oil and gas.

Meanwhile, enthusiasm is growing for 4D seismic. Applied widely in Europe and now gaining acceptance in other oil and gas producing areas of the world, 4D (time-lapse) seismic technology has for several years been recognized for qualitative information.

As shown in the three-province Troll Field, it is now possible to decide where to locate an infill well, change steam or water injection for EOR gains, start producing small deposits that might otherwise be overlooked, or in some other way improve the efficacy of hydrocarbon recovery. In a special report for Offshore,Jaime A. Stein, Alexandre Bertrand, and David Bannister of Geotrace discuss the value that 4D seismic can bring to developing a field. Their analysis starts on page 66.

Caspian/Middle East

Within the last four months, E&P activity from the Caspian region has been frequent.

BP started production in another section of the ACG field. Oil from one of three wells at the West Azeri platform reached the Sangachal oil terminal, about 40 km south of the Azeri capital, Baku, on Jan. 4.

Total output from West Azeri is estimated to be around 70,000 b/d day in 2006.International Editor Pam Boschee looks at the current and future Caspian developments in her special report that begins onpage 26.

West and East Azeri comprise phase II of the ACG project. This phase will represent more than 420,000 b/d when East Azeri comes onstream next year.

Central Azeri, which is phase I of the ACG project, came onstream in February 2005, producing around 93,000 b/d. An average output of 230,000 b/d is expected in 2006. The third phase covers the deepwater Gunashli field, which is due to begin production in 2008. This will bring the total ACG development to seven platforms.

Total output from ACG is estimated to reach more than 1 MMb/d by 2009.

At the same time, production activity is heating up off Turkmenistan. In nearshore Block 1, Petronas Carigali is about to start an extended well test via a specially modified jackup platform.

In the adjacent Cheleken contract area, Dragon Oil’s long-time redevelopment of the LAM and Zhdanov fields is entering a new phase. New platforms and processing facilities should allow the company to more than double oil output to 50,000 b/d.Jeremy Beckman, Editor-Europe, provides a full report beginning on page 34.

Business in China

Finally, take a look at some good advice on how to do business in China.Arthur Jiantao Yan of China Gateway Consulting Group gives a rundown on the key factors to consider - and steps to take - in doing business in China.

The “win-win” strategy is the key. To compromise is to show goodwill, says Yan.

“Companies may either execute a Chinese project through foreign E&P companies or deal directly with Cnooc,” Yan explains. “Companies must develop strategies of dealing with both. Cnooc subsidiary COSL has 90% of its business offshore China and occupies 70% of the total offshore China market. Its strategy includes being a cost leader, being technology-driven (COSL is considered an expert in conventional technology and a follower of advanced technology), penetrating international markets, and implementing integrated solutions.” Seepage 112.

Eldon Ball