Industry keeps the paddlewheel of deepwater discoveries turning

Offshore exploration in the oil industry is percolating furiously like a pot of Maxwell House, and brewing up a handsome lot of discoveries to whistle at.

To that end, here’s a tidbit extracted from the fourth-quarter earnings conference call of contract driller Noble Corporation on January 24.

During the call, Roger Hunt, Noble’s senior vice president of marketing and contracts, said that in 2012, global customers announced 52 deep- and ultra-deepwater discoveries in waters 4,000 feet of water and deeper. This eclipsed by 40% the previous record in 2010 of 37 discoveries.

Of last year’s 52 discoveries, 18 were in ultra-deep waters of 7,000 feet and deeper, including nine in more than 8,000 feet of water.  The 52 discoveries were made in 14 countries, Hunt said.

And industry continues to spread its wings across more and different regions of deepwater drilling, he said. In 2008, the so-called “Golden Triangle” of the US Gulf of Mexico, Brazil and West Africa accounted for 80% of all deepwater discoveries.  But last year, that area only accounted for 47% of total discoveries; the rest were in a diversity of areas throughout the world, said Hunt.

“Only five short years ago, we heard the first mention of deepwater successes in Israel, Australia, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Mexico,” he said. “Now these countries are present in the backlog of discoveries each year … and new areas are surfacing” such as Tanzania, Mozambique, India and the Ivory Coast.

“It’s interesting to observe the spread of deepwater drilling across the globe,” added Hunt.

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Noble is building a fleet of premium drilling rigs and has 11 rigs (five deepwater drillships, six shallow-water jackup rigs) currently under construction, and tracks the changing regions and quantity of offshore oil discoveries of industry customers.

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  1. Ron Wagner at January 26, 2013 3:44 pm

    Don’t forget all the gas that is going to be produced too.


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