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Reaching the Unreachable—Well Drilling with Buoys

August 09, 2013

Reaching the Unreachable—Well Drilling with Buoys


Oil and Gas Well Drilling Exploration

Oil and gas exploration initiatives have uncovered a wealth of untapped resources, both on-land and offshore. Offshore drilling provides huge amounts of crude oil—1.5 million barrels each day from offshore drilling, by the United States alone! It is estimated that one-third of the world’s total supply of oil comes from offshore sources.

The Offshore Challenge

Because these offshore wells require a fixed platform from which to drill from, offshore drilling poses its own limits and drawbacks. Just reaching the ocean floor is a challenge, as many times it is half a mile or more below the surface of the water. These variables have set limits on developing many potential oil reserves.
Oil and gas exploration companies have long desired to capitalize on what’s known as “stranded oil reserves.” Stranded oil reserves are reserves of oil located in areas labeled uneconomical for development and recovery using our current drilling technology. Areas can be uneconomical for a variety of reasons, such as:
  • Unstable environment—sea-beds, drilling location, or the ocean itself
  • Drilling equipment—un-adaptable well drilling supplies and equipment
  • Inadequate advances in our drilling technology—we’re just not there yet!
  • Proper well drilling supplies are not developed for specific situations
Mobilizing New Well Drilling Technology
A new and exciting idea that is being developed by an engineering firm (ABTechnology) is called “Advanced Buoy Technology.” Together in partnership with Enegi, they hope to develop assets in the North Sea. This technology basically makes use of a floating buoy to extract gas and oil from undersea sources. It hopes to capitalize on untapped resources that are too small for big rigs to profit from.
Because it uses newer and smaller technology as well as mobile vessels, storage tanks and equipment; in theory it would be easy to move from location to location. It is believed that this system could be used to develop oil fields containing between 10 and 30 million barrels of oil. The system is un-manned and sits just below the water’s surface. It contains equipment to produce and process the oil as well as a storage facility. From the storage facility, a tanker would be required to periodically take away the oil.
“The beauty of the buoy, of course, is that it can be removed very easily; it can be moved to other locations. It’s got a 20-year life and it can be used on two, three, maybe even four projects,” ENegi CEO Alan Minty said. “So it’s a very, very flexible approach, although we recognize that it’s not a panacea for all marginal fields.”
According to Enegi and Wood Mackenzie, there are an estimated 287 discovered oil fields in the UK’s North Sea that contain 2.2 billion barrels of oil and 9 trillion cubic feet of gas. Well drilling in these areas could not only be profitable, it could open the door for further discoveries and recovery of oil reserves. Alan Minty further states:
"We've trawled through several databases and we've identified slightly under 600 marginal fields that are suitable for this technology, with about a third of those in the North Sea."
That’s a lot of potentially profitable well drilling sites and oil resources that would become recoverable with this offshore new well drilling system.


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