We Are Leveraging Our Experience and Technological Expertise We operate a diverse offshore oil and gas portfolio that includes stakes in fields in Equatorial Guinea and Ghana in West Africa, the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, the North Sea, the Malaysia/Thailand Joint Development Area, the Australian North West Shelf and Indonesia. To get the most from these subsea developments, we are leveraging our experience and technological expertise.
Our Subsea Developments Group is continuously enhancing its systems and tools, streamlining processes, building capabilities and resources and collaborating across functions to get the most from our assets. We have earned a reputation for our use of innovative technologies, including managed pressure and horizontal drilling. We successfully used managed pressure drilling (MPD) technology on the Semai project, an exploration drilling program to appraise multiple prospects offshore West Papau, Indonesia. The exploration wells were drilled in deep water, into zones of unknown formation pressure and geological uncertainty. These challenges created a potential risk to operational and well control safety. But we mitigated those risks and successfully drilled the wells using MPD technology, which enabled us to drill in this narrow pressure margin formation. MPD uses controlled formation pressure during drilling operations, and has proven to be a better and safer way to drill in some environments.
In Western Australia, we drilled the country's first successful offshore horizontal well at our Equus gas project in the Northern Carnarvon Basin. We have an established technical capability in horizontal wells, which efficiently deviate from 'straight line' drilling to parallel the oil zone. Because horizontal drilling is more efficient, we will be able to reduce the number of development wells required for the project.
We were awarded a 100 percent interest in the Equus field in 2007 and made three commercial discoveries in 2008. We have drilled a total of 16 exploratory wells on the block, 13 of which were natural gas discoveries. Equus is one of the deepest water developments in Australia, with the fields in water depths ranging from more than 3,200 feet to more than 3,900 feet. Other subsea initiatives, which have either already occurred or are in the planning or execution phase, are:
- Use of seabed multiphase pumping technology to enhance production in deepwater fields, including Ceiba offshore Equatorial Guinea. Multiphase pumps can accelerate production rates and improve field development economics. They also allow us to create longer subsea tiebacks because they boost the flowing wellhead pressure and potentially reduce the total number of wells we need within a development.
- Use of SMART well technology to maximize production within complex deepwater wells, including Llano and Stampede in the Gulf of Mexico. SMART wells are equipped with permanent downhole measurement equipment or control valves, or both. The sensors provide valuable well management data.
- Use of a virtual metering system to assist in deepwater surveillance activities, including Ceiba offshore Africa and Tubular Bells in the Gulf of Mexico. Well rate surveillance is essential for reservoir characterization and selecting potential activities to enhance and optimize production. However, such variables usually lack consistent or direct field measurements, which are related to technology availability, equipment reliability, and cost control. As a result, many technologies have been developed to estimate well rates from indirect measurements, including virtual metering. From a pilot study in the Ceiba field, we confirmed there are a number of benefits from virtual metering, including less downtime from well testing, early problem detection and improved cost control.