OVERCOMING THE CHALLENGES OF DEEP WATER [ OVERCOMING THE CHALLENGES OF DEEP WATER Edward G. Stokes, Conoco Inc. Abstract: It is known within the oil industry that petroleum exists in sedimentary basins under the world's oceans out to significant water depths1. Future exploitation of these resources will rely on a number of important issues related to field development strategy that affect critical decisions that must be addressed prior to project commitment. Uncertainties around issues such as: reservoir risk, commercial terms, infrastructure, oil price, political and regulatory stability as well as the creation and application of advanced technologies must be considered before future fields in these depths can be economically developed. Creation of advanced technologies is one of the areas that Conoco Inc. is pursuing to develop tools and processes to enable hydrocarbon development to become a reality for deep water. Future technological advancements will span a wide cadre of engineering challenges. Briefly discussed below are three examples of these advancements where Conoco is investing time and resources to meet a portion of them: Deep Water Drillships - These vessels are addressing the long-term need for exploration and development drilling capability. To turn this need in to a reality, Conoco formed a strategic alliance with Reading & Bates Falcon that designed, built, commissioned and is now operating two of these state-of-the-art vessels. Subsea Mudlift - A new drilling process and associated equipment are being developed to enable ultra-deep water wells to be drilled. Strategic Integration - Deep water engineers are investigating new field development approaches and promising new technologies. The right concept utilizing new and innovative technologies is being established to ensure that the best solution (least risk, lowest cost and highest value) is used for the company's future field developments.
To meet these challenges the company is an active participant in many industry technology development programs. However, in some As world economies move into the 21st technological areas seen as either critical by the Century, some of the growth will be dependent company and/or required sooner than the industry upon their ability to secure and exploit new can provide, Conoco has made a strategic energy resources. In additional to traditional decision to be the leader for the development of fuels, countless products used by the world today these key technologies. are made from hydrocarbons. The growing Three examples of technologies that demand for petroleum in its many forms Conoco has identified as important to its growth combined with declining production in mature are discussed in the sub-sections that follow. areas is forcing oil companies to move into Two of these focus on drilling while the third remote and environmentally challenging areas to covers a new approach to field development. explore and produce. The