Guest Commentary: Deep-water oil and gas essential to global energy future

By Jeff Miller

Oil and gas development in deep water is an essential part of the US and global energy future.

There’s a fairly broad consensus that world oil demand will grow at about 1.5 percent per year for the foreseeable future.

In addition to demand growth, the industry must replace production from existing fields that are in decline.

It’s clear that we’ll require hydrocarbon supplies from many sources to meet the global energy demand. While there is no question that shale oil and gas have been transformational in North America, globally deep water oil and gas development is just as important.

In fact, a recent report indicates that 77 percent of new oil and gas discoveries occurred in conventional deep water or ultra-deep water.

We all know that the deep water environment brings with it unique challenges, costs, risks and payoffs. The operating costs in the deep water environment are staggering. With the cost of a deep water rig and other required equipment averaging about $1 million per day, the cost of a deep water well can easily exceed $100 million.

However, deep water is the one remaining place where “giant” untapped oil fields remain and the payoff can be extraordinary. Our ability to tap those resources is advancing every day.

Offshore technology has developed quickly. The first offshore wells were drilled about 60 years ago in only a few feet of water.

Today wells are routinely drilled in 10,000 feet of water. I think of it like sending a rocket ship to the moon each day.

Today’s deep water wells are drilled through two miles of water, then four miles of rock, ultimately placing the drill bit in a zone about the size of a five-gallon bucket.

Halliburton’s role in the deep water environment is reducing uncertainly and delivering ultra-reliability to our operator clients.

We reduce uncertainty with software, down-hole equipment and planning expertise that help operators predict and plan for everything from where oil and gas may occur in the reservoir to how best to complete the well for production.

Some of our newest technology allows operators to test wells at 500 degrees, allowing them the best opportunity to identify the amount of oil that may be in the reservoir and then design the best drilling and completion plan.

Reducing uncertainty includes clear and comprehensive reservoir characterization: understanding the geology of the oil or gas reservoir.

Our capacity to gather and process information about deep water reservoirs has never been better. This allows us to plan rigorously and understand contingencies. It also allows us to maximize the reservoir productivity by precisely directing drilling and applying just the right completion technology and chemistry to the wells that are drilled.

Ultra-reliability means getting the work done the first time, without unnecessary delays, in an environment where dollars are measured in minutes.

The technology of ultra-reliability is designing simple capability that systematically reduces, in a repeatable fashion, the days required to drill and complete.

Collaboration is essential to delivering ultra-reliability. It ensures that each project is viewed from a full range of perspectives Applying lessons learned and technology only enhance the value of deep water assets globally.

Collaboration also reduces uncertainty. Working together effectively helps us bring together the best knowledge available about the reservoir.

Successful deepwater exploration is critical to the future of the oil and gas industry. Reducing uncertainty and increasing reliability will ensure that deep-water resources contribute to global energy security in a way that is economical for the oil and gas industry and at a cost the consumer can afford.

Jeff Miller is executive vice president and chief operating officer of Halliburton.