HOUSTON -- In the opening plenary session at DOT on Tuesday, Steve Thurston, VP of Chevron North American Exploration and Production and head of Chevron’s deepwater exploration and projects, told delegates at the event that opportunities for success are high in the Gulf of Mexico and that the key to that success is technology.
The GoM remains a ‘world class petroleum system,” Thurston said, with “3-13 Bbbl of oil yet to be found.” These reserves likely are in 4,000 to 10,000 ft (1,219 to 3,048 m) of water and “to say that advanced technology is required (to find and produce the reserves) is an understatement.”
As examples of how technology is meeting the challenges of deepwater GoM operations, Thurston said that drilling a well in 2004 could take 160 days but by 2009 that time requirement has been decreased to less than 90 days. He added that among the challenges which remain to be met are how make a 1,000-ft (305-m) long completion in less than 100 days, implementing cost-effective boosting and secondary recovery systems, and the fact that GoM discoveries are pushing the limits of existing floating production systems.
The issues of dependable seismic imaging below the salt also came in for discussion. Thurston said the wide-azimuth seismic surveying has helped the problem, but that it is not enough. Successful imaging is the “holy grail” for exploration in deepwater GoM today.
In wrapping up, Thurston reinforced his statement that technology is the key to deeper water exploration and production by noting that historically “Firsts do not last long in deepwater.”