By Jennifer Presley, Hart Energy
As we step closer to another Gulf Coast summer, two things are a given: the arrival of hurricane season and the start of the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC). While one brings the potential for torrential rains and winds, the other delivers—without fail—a torrent of people from all corners of the globe to Houston’s open doors. Set for May 5-May 9, OTC is an exciting, adrenaline-packed four days of networking and knowledge building—two of the softer but highly important skills in a career toolbox—that will help further development of offshore resources in the years to come.
While the focus of OTC is not specifically centered on the Gulf of Mexico (GoM), many of the technologies showcased on the exhibit floor or presented to packed rooms have been applied with success in its waters. From the timber-built platform of the first offshore well in the GoM—drilled in a field called Creole off the coast of Louisiana in 1938—to the steel giants of today in fields like Mars and Na Kika, technology and collaboration have each played a key role in the development of the GoM.
Each has helped push offshore development farther out and deeper into the GoM. Results from the recent Lease Sale 231 for the Central Planning Area attracted more than $850 million in high bids on 326 blocks covering 1.7 million acres on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) offshore Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, according to Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)-issued press release. A total of 42 offshore energy companies participated in submitting 380 bids. Of those 380 bids, 156 were for tracts located in water depths greater than 800 m (2,624 ft), with the lion’s share of the bids (108) for tracts in water depths greater than 1,600 m (5,250 ft), according to a BOEM-issued presale statistics report.
Industry watchers will cast their gazes towards New Orleans in August when the results for the Lease Sale 238 for the Western Planning Area are announced. According to BOEM, the sale will include approximately 3,992 blocks, covering roughly 21.4 million acres in water depths ranging from 5 m to 3,336 m (5 ft to 10,978 ft). Safely developing these leases will, in some cases, require the development of new technologies and approaches. Major operators like BP, with its Project 20K, are working on projects today to develop those new technologies.
Many of today’s technologies developed for use in the deep water have found uses in other industries. This transfer of technologies has benefitted numerous industries, including automotive, aviation, petroleum, and military. For example, the AUVs discussed in this month’s Offshore Connect interview with Mark Hall, president of Kongsberg Oil and Gas, originally developed for academic research in the 1970s, have found uses not just in the oil and gas industry conducting subsea pipeline inspections but also black box recovery missions.
Jennifer Presley is senior editor, offshore, for E&P. Editor’s Note: If you happen to be attending OTC this year, be sure to visit the Hart Energy booth (#3109) to pick up the latest issues of E&P and the official OTC newspaper.