The Deepwater Horizon seabed blowout and subsequent rig
fire was a combination of human and technological error.
Photo by USCG.
Given the world's escalating energy needs and oil and gas
reserves increasingly coming from deepwater exploration, the
likelihood is drilling proposals around the South Island will
Shell and Anadarko are proposing separate test wells near
Dunedin over the next 18 months in depths of about 1000m.
Although the industry strives for 100% safety, there will
always be a risk.
Anadarko is scheduled to drill next January. Shell will
decide by the end of the year on whether to drill, in what
could be an up to $US200 million ($NZ238 million) programme.
Deepwater operations have captured the attention of not only
the major explorers, because of their potential size, but
also environmentalists, as each tries to assess the
New Zealand's annual petroleum conference in Wellington,
hosted by the Petroleum Exploration and Production
Association of New Zealand (Pepanz), heard yesterday from
keynote international speaker John Warren, the senior
business development manager of Halliburton, covering
Mr Warren said the world was in an ''energy renaissance''
where ''unconventional'' oil and gas production, from
fracking, was increasing production.
''Most of the discoveries by majors [the big oil companies]
have in recent years been in deep water,'' he said.
There were 500 deepwater wells in 2012 but it was estimated
that would push out to 1250 by 2020, he said. The Gulf of
Mexico's reserves were about 48% in deepwater operations.
Pepanz chief executive David Robinson summed up the conundrum
of the oil sector, and environmentalists, noting that while
the world ''aspired to be carbon-free'', everyone was
''living in a petroleum [dominated] world and the leap to
renewables'' was in the hands of science and technology.
Deepwater drilling was giving a new lease of life to the
sector, alongside unconventional shore drilling, deferring
the peak oil issues for at several decades. Wells discovered
in the 1950s were again being drilled, either
unconventionally or in deep water, Mr Warren said.
He noted production from one large deep well equated to, in
general, 12 wells in the past: ''The efficiency in large
[deepwater] reserves is the key.''
Mr Warren defined deepwater as drilling in 300m-400m, which
means 17 of New Zealand's 18 offshore basins will be
''As natural gas prices increase, expect the new technology
to be applied there,'' Mr Warren said.
Mr Warren was asked by one of the 250 conference delegates
about ''fear expressed by the public ... of [deepwater]
He said there would ''always be risk'' with deepwater
drilling but highlighted that the number of ''incidents''
since the 2000s was down 90%.
After his presentation, Mr Warren said in an interview the
industry was ''pushing for zero'' environmental or safety
On the question of the Deepwater Horizon seabed blowout and
subsequent rig fire in the Gulf of Mexico, which became the
United States' worst environmental disaster, Mr Warren said
it was a combination of human and technological error.
There was now more technology, reliability and competence in
''What has evolved around the world is what will be used in
the South Island,'' he said.
Halliburton, operating for 94 years, is one of the largest
providers in the world to the energy sector, including
exploration, drilling and production, parts, analysis and
services. It employs about 75,000 people in 80 countries.