Offshore's 1999-2000 Advisory Board outlook positive, despite downturn

As the industry shrinks in response to weaker oil prices, the last area where reductions are likely is offshore - and more specifically, deepwater. Most members of Offshore Magazine's new 1999-2000 Editorial Advisory Board were adamant: Not only was this one of the most active growth areas for the industry before the oil price downturn, but the lucrative size of prospective offshore and deepwater producing fields around the globe provides little to risk for producers other than technology,


Richard White
Western Geophysical
Richard C. White is President of Western Geophysical, a division of Baker Hughes Inc. After receiving a BS in geology from Bloomburg University in Pennsylvania, White began his career with Western in 1978 as a field clerk in Montana. Following a series of promotions through the ranks of crew supervisor and manager, White became manager of South Texas operations in 1985 and manager of Western Hemisphere marine operations in 1988. In 1992, he was appointed Vice President of North American Operations and promoted to President in 1994.

The year 1999 will be challenging for the seismic industry. As a result of low oil prices, most of the oil and gas companies are expected to reduce capital spending. These reductions will have a direct effect on the entire oil service industry. The challenge for the seismic industry will be to continue to find ways to add compelling value to our products and services such that they will translate into cost savings for our customers. The key to this effort is integrated technologies.

Over the last 10 years, growth in the 3D seismic market occurred because the data added value, became less expensive, and the turnaround for ac qui sition and processing was reduced. In particular, seismic contractors have done an impressive job of driving down the cost of 3D seismic data, a reduction of as much as 5-6 times per sq km by a conservative estimate. We will continue to pursue growth in the 3D seismic market with these types of cost and turnaround efficiencies.

In terms of the geographic scope of 3D seismic, the deepwater basins of the world offer great exploration potential as well as many technical challenges. It is incumbent upon us to provide enhanced data quality with an eye on the bottom line to help mitigate risk in these high-cost exploration areas. Western Geophysical will be launching two new world-class seismic vessels in 1999 and 2000 to address these very issues.

While 3D seismic offers added value on a stand-alone basis, the technical opportunities for growth today lie within the scope of integrating seismic information with various other information technologies to solve multidisciplinary problems. The oil and gas companies have worked to integrate information from many sources such as well logs, MOOD, LWD, geochemistry, and biostratigraphy. These activities are core to their exploration and production efforts, and we need to continue to innovate in this area.

An example of integrated technologies is 4D seismic with the inclusion of time-lapse seismic information and engineering data to allow reservoir monitoring. Seismic data may play a key role not only for structural and imaging purposes, but also in conjunction with other technologies for lithology prediction, geosteering, and reservoir management.

The key to success for the seismic industry will be the ability to translate these technologies into products and services that reduce risk and costs for our customers. Growth through 1999 and beyond depends on it.

Copyright 1998 Oil & Gas Journal. All Rights Reserved.

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