Saturday, February 12, 2011

Growing Boom in Sub-Salt and Unconventional Oil Reservoirs

You can call it subsalt exploration, presalt exploration or whatever makes you happy.

Just don’t forget to call exploration beneath salt bodies a big deal.

These plays are not new, yet the announcement of the giant Petrobras-operated Tupi field presalt oil discovery in 2006 offshore Brazil in the Santos Basin triggered major excitement in the E&P community and elsewhere.

It seems that these finds are just getting started -- and are putting Brazil on the "big-oil" map big time.
Brazil has a sunken treasure off its shores… though not the type Jack Sparrow [That's Captain Jack Sparrow to you!] might seek.

Instead, it is stashed beneath miles of water, rock and layers of salt beneath the ocean’s floor. And these so-called “pre-salt” oil fields make for the biggest oil discovery in the Americas since the 1970s.

Brazil’s oil regulator estimates they contain about 50 billion barrels of oil equivalent. That’s more than enough to turn Brazil into one of the world’s top oil producers in this upcoming decade. _InvestmentU
As you know, Brazil's offshore oil riches derive from vast fields of algae that have been well-fed by nutrients from the Amazon for many tens of millions of years. One might expect similar rich fields in the Gulf of Mexico, similarly fed by the Mississippi for many tens of millions of years. A lot of drillers happen to be chomping at the bit for the lead-footed (and perhaps lead-poisoned) Obama regime to lift its energy-starvation policies so that they can go after those rich fields.
McMoran Exploration (MMR) remains convinced that there are still good ultra-deep oil and gas prospects at shallow depths in the Gulf of Mexico. That exploration is still in its infancy, though, and it’s far from clear that these high-risk, sub-salt reserves can ultimately be recovered at economically attractive costs.

...Simply put, management believes companies like Exxon just didn’t dig deep enough. McMoran’s drilling strategy is focused on extracting reserves thought to exist below the “salt weld” — specifically, hydrocarbon-bearing sands in the “deep gas plays” (depths of 15,000 to 25,000 feet) and “ultra-deep gas plays” below 25,000 feet.
Given the geologic history of the region, such deep finds are not beyond reason. But since the Obama administration is dragging its feet on offshore drilling, that puts more pressure on unconventional wells to produce. And these wells appear to be more than up to the challenge.
...analysts predicted that the new activity, centered on so-called unconventional reservoirs, could greatly boost domestic oil production and help offset declining output in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico.

These reservoirs, trapped in tight shale-rock formations, were deemed too hard to crack a decade ago. But in the past two years, breakthroughs in drilling technology, combined with high oil prices, have led companies like Chesapeake and Petrohawk to switch rigs formerly devoted to drilling for natural gas to emerging oilfields like the Eagle Ford shale formation, which stretches from the outskirts of Houston and San Antonio, Texas, south into Mexico.

...The Eagle Ford experienced a more-than-tenfold increase in the number of wells drilled last year over the 94 completed in 2009 and is slated for even more development this year. And the trend is playing out nationally, in formations such as the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and the Monterey Shale in California.

Oil production from these sources is expected to reach 1.5 million barrels a day by 2015 from fewer than 500,000 barrels a day now, according to energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie. That is similar to the amount of crude produced in the offshore Gulf of Mexico, and the equivalent of nearly 30% of current U.S. production. That extra million barrels per day could help replace some expensive oil imports as conventional oilfields in the rest of the country decline. _Rigzone

Of course Obama's EPA is doing everything it can behind-the-scenes to shut down unconventional oil and gas. That is simply part and parcel of what it means to press a policy of "energy starvation." Just part of being lefty-Luddites no doubt. In the same way as they have shut down offshore oil drilling, the Obama regime is also overtly and covertly working on shutting down coal mines, coal power plants, Canadian oil sands, Green River oil shale, and is dragging its feet on certifying and permitting safe, new, reliable nuclear reactors.

The only kind of energy the Obama administration seems to like, is the unreliable and exorbitantly expensive kind -- solar and wind. It's not enough for Europe to be suffering for its foolish eyes-closed dive into the shallow rocky bottoms of wind and solar power. Obama simply must force the same suicidal approach on the US, while he still has the chance.

Unfortunately for the Obama-suicidal administration, the executive branch is not the only branch of the US government. And in the lower house of the legislative branch, a new pro-energy sheriff just rode into town ready to kick ass and take names. And if that sheriff fails to do the job, there are several others waiting and ready to get the backing of the US Tea Party factions, to do it for them.

There is plenty of oil, plenty of coal, plenty of gas, plenty of fissionable fuels . . . Unfortunately, there are also plenty of lefty-Luddites of the dieoff.orgy persuasion, who want to force their suicidal derangement onto everyone else. I suspect that enough people will wake up before that happens, who will show these Luddites to the edge of the cliff and invite them to take the first plunge.

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