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France's TotalEnergies and Norway's Equinor are divesting their interests in Venezuela's extra-heavy crude oil Petrocedeño project onshore in the Orinoco Belt, leaving state-owned Petróleos de Venezuela (PdVSA) to hold 100% of the project's equity. Petrocedeño S.A. produces extra-heavy crude oil from the Orinoco Belt in Venezuela and transports it for upgrading and blending into a lighter crude suitable for export. US sanctions have seriously depressed the project's output, which S&P Global said can produce 202,000 B/D under normal operating conditions. But while commenting on the divestiture during a webcast on 29 July to report the company's financial results for Q2, TotalEnergies CEO Patrick Pouyanne assured analysts that the decision to divest was "not related to the political situation in Venezuela or to sanctions." Rather, the company considers it "inconsistent to employ Capex in the Orinoco Belt" given that shareholders in May approved a strategy to focus new oil investments only on projects with a low carbon intensity, Pouyanne said. Petrocedeño falls short of the criteria that TotalEnergies is now using to assess which oil projects will remain in its portfolio.
Forecasts for oil demand are looking up, according to OPEC and the International Energy Agency as of mid-July. Will the optimistic views prove to be on target? We have learned how the market can shift or wildly careen, both historically and in the very recent past. Looking at the forecasts, which reflect a consensus of sorts, is encouraging for producers. OPEC's monthly report of 15 July projected global oil demand to reach nearly 100 million B/D next year, a level similar to pre-pandemic in 2019.
In some respects, the prospect of returning to some degree of normality is evident on the horizon. The future of our energy system is being transformed, and oil and gas are crucial for energy stability as well as the transformation. One of the miracles over the past year has been the accumulated knowledge around the human genome and application of this science to the rapid development of efficacious vaccines. As within oil and gas, humans can rise to the challenge to solve complex problems when identified. This is playing out as we see societal drivers around climate change and net-zero carbon emissions.
The carbon-free future should not be confused with a utopian future. A zero-carbon world will include the difficult realities experienced in Texas in February 2021. As shown in a graph of US EIA data, during the recent extreme cold event in Texas, wind and solar could not hold flat compared with their baseline the week before (4–8 February). Coal and nuclear remained mostly steady, while natural-gas producers ramped up supplies delivered to power plants by a factor of 4, helping people who were struggling to heat their homes. Natural gas may not receive well-deserved recognition from some quarters, and blackouts and loss of life still occurred, but our industry stepped up when people needed us most.
Flow assurance in subsea oil and gas fields often presents significant challenges. Every field has its own combination of difficulties, and no universal process or system can be used to mitigate these. Detailed knowledge across a broad range of competencies, therefore, is required to find solutions that can minimize the risk of not getting the hydrocarbons safely to the process facilities. Many subsea fields that are being developed today are long tiebacks, taking advantage of existing offshore infrastructure or producing directly to shore. These developments must deal with the long-distance transport of hydrocarbons in deep cold water, commonly increasing the risk of hydrate formation and wax deposition, for example.
In this new decade, the prevalence of integration is at the forefront of the scientific community. Every discipline, scientist, or company has a way in which they define the term “integration.” Regardless of how you define the effort that links disciplines quantitatively, the importance of constraining subsurface characterization to link it to production results and drive toward a predictive model is a critical accomplishment for our industry.
A new extended-release (ER) scale-inhibitor technology showing significantly increased lifetimes has been applied in the Permian Basin. Tomson Technologies and Group 2 Technologies, in partnership with Occidental Petroleum (Oxy), implemented a scale-squeeze program for this carrier system. It allows for fewer squeeze treatments, which results in lower chemical usage, decreased plugging risk, and reduced environmental impact. Squeeze programs are an effective field treatment strategy to prevent scale formation in wells for extended periods of time. However, in some cases, squeeze lifetimes can be short, leading to frequent re-squeezing and production decreases, lowering overall economic recoveries.
The market turmoil of 2020 left the upstream industry with diminished ranks, palpable concerns over long-term demand, and mounting pressure to reduce its carbon footprint. This made for what many consider a bullish case, as JPT has reported, for robotics uptake over the course of the decade. But there are reasons to temper expectations. After all, this is the oil and gas industry. The upstream landscape is as vast as it is specialized.
The initial oil rush in the late 1800s spread like wildfire through Pennsylvania, and by 1891 the state's annual crude output had hit 31 million barrels, or 58% of the nation's total oil production for that year. However, by the turn of the century the bloom was off the rose. Pennsylvania's once-robust oil allure had been eclipsed by finds in Texas, California, and Oklahoma, each spawning its own regional oil booms. Because it's important to understand the potential volume and impact of orphan wells in the US. In the infancy of the industry, plugging-and-abandonment (P&A) techniques were crude at best, if anyone even went to the trouble.
Equinor could play a critical role in Brazil's drive to boost its economy by opening up its gas markets. The Norwegian oil company operates two huge deepwater blocks with enough gas to lower prices in the country where big users pay some of the highest prices in the world. The development plan for one of those blocks, BM-C-33 in the Campos Basin, would deliver an average of 14 million m3/d of gas--about 15% of the country's gas demand on a high-consumption day, which is about 92 million m3/d, based on data from Rystad. A second project in the heart of the presalt, Bacalhau, could become a model for how an international oil company can market gas successfully in the country's richest oil play, the Santos Basin presalt. The gas potential in that play is also huge; the gas/oil ratio is high compared with other Brazilian fields but has largely been untapped.