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Something old, something new

01st May 2014
Mark Venables, Editor-in-Chief, Oil & Gas Technology

Mark Venables, Editor-in-Chief, Oil & Gas Technology

Mark has spent many years working on publications focussed on the engineering and energy sectors, bringing to Oil and Gas Technology editorial expertise and in-depth industry knowledge.

1st May 2014
Anyone who is anyone in the world of oil and gas will converge on Houston next week for the annual OTC event in order to mull over recent technology advances and look to the future.
But where else can the industry go? The answer is clear, north
But where else can the industry go? The answer is clear, north

But what is the future of oil and gas exploration? Without a doubt there are many aspects the will shape its future. But at its heart it will all come down to resources, technology and geopolitics. I will leave the last to those better versed in the intricacies and deception of international relations.


As we stand now we are into the fifth decade of the deepwater era. The consensus is that we have reached the halfway point so it will be with us for some time yet. But gazing into the future there are two distinct, and widely contrary trends that can be seen. The first is a move to the uncharted regions of the Arctic. The second will be a closer exploration of onshore and shallow waters utilising new technology.


Looking at new plays over recent years it is true that the majority of major discoveries have occurred in deepwater, save the fields off East India. On top of that they are all located in basins where discoveries had previously been made.


Pre-eminent amongst these discoveries are the Brazilian pre-salt play and the Paleogene play of the Gulf of Mexico; both a result of going deeper in established basins, below salt, towards the lowest known source rock.


So with that in mind it is clear that deepwater exploration still has a vibrant and lengthy future. At the heart of this will be technological advances in areas such as seismic data.


But where else can the industry go? The answer is clear, north. The ice-bound continental shelf and slope of the artic remains largely unexplored. Because 60 per cent of the arctic region is in Russian waters, that country will dominate its development. 


But looking at the challenges faced in exploiting that region it is clearly an exercise in engineering ingenuity in overcoming the ice, and the temperature and to a lesser degree the lack of daylight for half of the year. To access these great, partially ice-bound prospects will not be easy, cheap or fast and will require companies to push the technology envelope to develop materials, processes and products that will start the oil flowing economically from the frozen wastes of the region.