The Purpose of Drilling in Deepwater
The purpose of deepwater drilling projects is essentially no different from other drilling, i.e., to discover commercial hydrocarbons safely, effectively, and efficiently at the lowest cost. When discovery results, the key decision trigger is how much capital investment is needed to sanction appraisal drilling, to assure, and acquire must- have vs. nice-to-have data, then process and interpret the data to meet the complexity of multidiscipline issues to be resolved.
The challenge then is to manage the project development according to controls that assure doing the right things and getting things done right the first time, at the lowest capital and operating costs, avoiding damage, loss or harm to the people, businesses and environment as low as practicable, as illustrated in Fig. 1.
As offshore deepwater basins remain relatively unexplored when compared to onshore or shallow offshore, the greater the water depths should present a greater likelihood of discovering big oil, especially in the 2000–3500 m (6562–11,583 ft) water depths.
The promise of discoveries can offset the significantly higher costs, risks and uncertainties that come with increased water depth, and offer the economic viability to explore in these environments.
Deepwater Drilling Goals and Objectives
Objectives and goals to be met in deepwater drilling-related projects, i.e., through Exploration, Appraisal, Development and Production phases, summarized, are to:
- lower finding, capital, intervention, workover and abandonment costs;
- accelerate and maximize production;
- create greater value returns on investment, e.g., increase ultimate recovery.
FIG. 1. Deepwater well-life-cycle project goals and objectives. Source: Kingdom Drilling, 2018.
To counter these challenges, multiple offshore technological and adaptive advancements would have to be met during the project life period. Example: the building and construction of a more fit-for-purpose, multi-functional, next-generation deep and ultradeepwater operating fleet is perhaps demanded to step change the advancements and technological solutions required. Where this investment is going to come from is a key factor. A new fleet would however offer far more optimism that deepwater can survive in such turbulent, challenging, and changing times.