Abstract

The deepwater operations off the Continental Shelf areas around the world are expected to escalate in the next five to ten years to help meet the world's increased demand for fossil fuel. For the drilling contractor to meet this challenge, he must continue to develop the art of drilling in the world's deeper and more hostile waters. This will require very expensive and sophisticated equipment and a new breed of highly technical people to operate it. From the oil companies' standpoint, the cost of exploratory and development efforts will be very expensive. Major oil provinces in deep water must be found if operation in this area is to experience any dramatic growth.

Introduction

The contractor's role in the deep and hostile waters will be a difficult one. This paper deals with the drilling unit the contractor paper deals with the drilling unit the contractor must use to explore the deep and hostile waters of the world - the dynamically positioned drill ship. Even though some have used conventionally moored semisubmersible and drill ships, this has only been done in special situations. For the contractor to meet the challenge and move in waters greater than 2,000 ft., the dynamically positioned drill ship will become the dominant positioned drill ship will become the dominant type of drilling vessel as we know it today.

Before getting into the contractor's role in deepwater, let's look briefly at the world's energy situation and the outlook for offshore exploration and production.

WORLD ENERGY OVERVIEW

Current Production and Reserves - World crude oil production in 1976 was 21 billion barrels (2.9 billion tons) and 1978 year-end proven reserves were just under 600 billion proven reserves were just under 600 billion barrels (82 billion tons). Reserves are therefore about 28 times 1976 production. Marketed natural gas production in 1976 was approximately 50 trillion feet (1.4 trillion cubic meters) or about 2 percent of the proven recoverable reserves which are put at 2,300 trillion cubic feet (65 trillion cubic meters).

Ultimately Recoverable Reserves - Because oil and gas are exhaustible resources, there is a continuing effort to ascertain how much remains to be discovered and added to reserves in the future to replace the amounts produced. Estimates as to how much oil and gas are left, all differ, naturally, because they have been developed by different people using different methods, assumptions and data. Basically, however, reserve estimates can fluctuate greatly because they will change with price, with technology, with governmental regulatory action and last, but not least, with time.

A number of the more recent studies on the amount of ultimately recoverable crude oil appear to converge on the figure 2.0 trillion barrels (275 billion tons). Of that figure approximately 50 percent has been discovered and 16 percent has been consumed. If these estimates are realistic, we are left with 50 percent of the world's oil reserves or 1.0 trillion barrels of undiscovered, potentially recoverable crude oil.

It should be noted that, historically, undiscovered reserves estimates have been understated. As the industry has progressed through time, new estimates of undiscovered reserves were made. And, invariably, as the industry grew more sophisticated in its knowledge and technology, the estimates of future reserves grew larger and larger.

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