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Oil and gas industry interest is surging in using remote survey technologies for more cost-efficient, safer, and lower-carbon certification, verification, and inspection of assets and operations. Amid COVID-19 travel restrictions in 2020, DNV GL has conducted more than 4,000 remote surveys for the sector. These have provided the supply chain with the assurance it needs to keep projects and operations running safely and on schedule. Remote surveys involve fixed and mobile cameras (e.g., smartphones) giving customers instant access to DNV GL experts worldwide for verification, classification, and certification of assets, verification of materials and components, inspection, and marine assurance. The growing track record for remote survey technology could soon make it the method of choice for inspections in some places and circumstances, according to a senior expert at one leading oil and gas exploration and production company.
Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, the Saudi energy minister and chairman of the OPEC and non-OPEC ministerial meeting, speaks to other energy officials at this week’s meeting which was held remotely due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In a bid to moderate global crude prices, Saudi Arabia announced on Tuesday that it will voluntarily reduce its oil production in February and March by around 1 million B/D compared with January’s level. Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, the Saudi energy minister, broke the news himself at the conclusion of this week’s meeting between OPEC and non-OPEC producers, known as OPEC+, where he said the Kingdom will limit its output to around 8.1 million B/D. He described the unexpected cuts as a “gift’ to the other members of the oil cartel and its allies but also said it was a preemptive move to protect oil prices and give Saudi Arabia “much better room in the future to maneuver.” He added, “Prudence is part of our Bedouin DNA.”
Liberty Oilfield Services and Schlumberger have completed the merger of Schlumberger’s North American hydraulic fracturing business into Liberty in exchange for a Schlumberger 37% equity interest in the North American oilfield company. The deal closed on 31 December 2020. According to the announcement of the transaction last September, the all-stock deal will double Liberty’s working pressure-pumping capacity without adding any debt to its balance sheet. "This transaction positions Schlumberger to benefit from the strong recovery already under way in North American shale activity," said Olivier Le Peuch, chief executive officer of Schlumberger. In its Q3 2020 earnings transcript, Schlumberger said that the Liberty transaction represented a key milestone in its scale-to-fit strategy to accelerate its financial goals for North America by high-grading its portfolio while lowering capital intensity and volatility.
Cenovus Energy said today that it has closed the acquisition of fellow Canadian heavy-oil producer Husky Energy in an all-stock transaction. The deal, announced in October and valued at around $2.9 billion, is Canada’s biggest oil industry merger since crude prices collapsed in March. With an output of almost 750,000 BOED, the combined company now counts as Canada’s third largest oil and gas producer and the second largest Canadian-based refiner and upgrader. Cenovus’ total North American upgrading and refining capacity now stands at about 660,000 B/D. Upon closing, Husky will remain a wholly owned subsidiary of Cenovus until the full integration of the two entities is completed.
COVID-19 has significantly accelerated the adoption of digital technologies across all industries, and the oil and gas industry has been no exception. Consequently, interest in digital data acquisition, the backbone of all digital transformation work flows, also has increased significantly. This can clearly be seen in the multifold increase in the number of SPE papers on this topic since last year. This feature will continue to focus on technologies to improve data accessibility and data acquisition, as well as entirely new data sources and their applications. The papers chosen this year include real-time remote monitoring of steam traps and corrosion using wireless sensors, enabling faster and easier access to relevant subsurface information through deep learning of unstructured documents, and automation of real-time drilling work flows through digital transformation technologies.
Artificial Intelligence in the E&P Industry: What Have We Learned So Far and Where to Next? Artificial intelligence (AI) has captivated the imagination of science-fiction movie audiences for many years and has been used in the upstream oil and gas industry for more than a decade (Mohaghegh 2005, 2011). But few industries evolve more quickly than those from Silicon Valley, and it accordingly follows that the technology has grown and changed considerably since this discussion began. The oil and gas industry, therefore, is at a point where it would be prudent to take stock of what has been achieved with AI in the sector, to provide a sober assessment of what has delivered value and what has not among the myriad implementations made so far, and to figure out how best to leverage this technology in the future in light of these learnings. When one looks at the long arc of AI in the oil and gas industry, a few important truths emerge. First among these is the fact that not all AI is the same.
ExxonMobil announced this week that it has achieved the maximum production rate of 120,000 B/D from its first floating production, storage, and offloading (FPSO) unit anchored offshore Guyana. The Texas-based oil and gas company faced delays in reaching the milestone after suffering technical setbacks with a gas injection system onboard the Liza Destiny FPSO. The issue limited the amount of oil that could be produced from the FPSO without significant routine flaring—a practice the company is seeking to end. A new gas injection system was successfully installed this month, enabling the FPSO to reach its peak capacity on the one-year anniversary of its commissioning. He added, “This resilient group, which includes a growing number of Guyanese professionals, continues to persevere through the COVID-19 pandemic and initial startup challenges to deliver a world-class project.”
The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) announced today that it has awarded an offshore exploration concession to Italy’s Eni and Thailand’s PTT Exploration and Production (PTTEP). Eni will operate Offshore Block 3 during the exploration phase and, along with its partner PTTEP, will be required to spend at least $412 million locating potential targets and drilling appraisal wells. The figure also includes a participation fee. He added that, “Offshore Block 3 represents a challenging opportunity that can unlock significant value thanks to exploration and appraisal of shallow and deep reservoirs.” Located northwest of Abu Dhabi, Offshore Block 3 covers an offshore area of about 11,660 km2 (~4,500 sq mi) that has been partially surveyed with 3D seismic.
ConocoPhillips announced today that it has made a new oil discovery offshore Norway. Located about 14 miles north-northeast of the Heidrun Field in the Norwegian Sea, the newly tapped Slagugle prospect is estimated to hold a recoverable volume of 75 to 200 million BOE, according to ConocoPhillips. The discovery well was drilled in 1,165 ft of water to a total depth of 7,149 ft by the Leiv Eiriksson drilling rig. ConocoPhillips is the operator of the prospect with an 80% stake. Norway-based Pandion Energy is the license partner with a 20% working interest.