Prior to 2007, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) upstream oil and gas research program focused primarily on onshore applications. In 2000, the DOE published the Offshore Technology Roadmap for the Ultra-Deepwater Gulf of Mexico. Then, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 required the DOE to expand its research portfolio to include ultra-deepwater research. DOE has continued this offshore research focus to the present, and this paper presents an overview of past accomplishments and results, the DOE's current research portfolio, and outlines the potentially key elements of a technology roadmap for the entire OCS.
Discussion focuses on key research findings from the DOE ultra-deepwater research portfolio of 2007-2013. Then the paper describes the current offshore research portfolio 2014 – 2019. Finally, the paper describes the outcomes and insights from key discussions with industry, academia, research and non-government and government stakeholders that could become a frame for a technology research roadmap for the entire Outer Continental Shelf.
DOE research investments in public-private partnerships with industry, academia, research labs, and others have made an important contribution to the current state-of-the-art in offshore technology---contributions that most people may not realize are tied to previous research investments by DOE. Tracing these contributions, tracking them back to the Offshore Technology Roadmap for the Ultra-Deepwater Gulf of Mexico published in November 2000, and framing a technology research roadmap for the OCS will demonstrate the value of public-private partnerships.
The information in this paper will both inform and inspire new frontiers of research for the OCS. As the USA moves forward with onshore development of unconventional resources, there are features of the DOE onshore research portfolio that may have merit in the OCS. For example, the DOE Field Laboratory program is focused on basin-specific research strategies where new technology can be applied to operating oilfields and evaluated via the scientific method. Then the data captured can potentially become part of further research by the DOE National Laboratories including geophysical, geomechanical, geochemical, and data analytics such as machine learning. This DOE program has been very successful onshore, and perhaps there is a place for a comparable multi-disciplinary, multi-partner approach in the OCS.