OTC 2022: Critical role of deep water in the energy mix

Craig Fleming, Technical Editor, World Oil 5/5/2022

Energy demand is expected to increase, and deepwater oil and gas will play a critical role in the energy mix in the future, ExxonMobil Vice President of Deepwater Jeff Weidner said during an executive dialogue at the Offshore Technology Conference on Wednesday.

“Because energy is a key link for human development, economic progress and the overall quality of life, we expect energy demand to increase,” Weidner said. The expectation is that there will be a strong demand for oil and gas too, but the industry is not investing enough to meet projected demand.

And operators can no longer just consider profitability and rate of return, he said. They must also consider carbon output of the project over its entire life cycle. ExxonMobil is going to streamline its deepwater portfolio using a new set metrics during field development to lower carbon footprint and GHG emissions. “Deepwater developments are unique, the wells are prolific, high-flowing properties that produce a significant amount of oil in a relatively short period of time,” Weidner continued. “However, we need to shorten the time between discovery to first oil. The increase pace of development places a strain on our engineering teams involved in the project and the ability to deploy new technologies. And we must use new methods and systems only when the value exceeds the cost. In some cases, applying new technology is counterproductive and can slow time to first oil.”

South America. ExxonMobil is focusing its deepwater effort in Guyana. The company has reported 18 deepwater discoveries since 2015, including three in April. The company achieved first oil on one in 2019 and the second earlier this year. ExxonMobil is working to bring its deepwater discoveries onstream as quickly as possible. “We want to shorten the timeline from seven years down to four or even three years,” Weidner stated. “The increased pace of development at the Guyana projects has put enormous pressure on our subsurface organization. However, the effort has paid off and ExxonMobil expects to recover 11 billion barrels of oil from the Guyana field.”

Regional impact. “A good relationship with the local government is paramount,” Weidner continued. “If local authorities are aligned with the operating company, it produces a win-win situation for both entities. To date, we have created employment for 3,600 Guyanese citizens and injected $600 million in the local economy. The project has also elevated the quality of life for ExxonMobil employees and our contractors that are focused on long-term sustainability.”

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