Deepwater Drilling – Local Ports are Now Surpassing Pre-BP Spill Levels

by | Friday, October 24, 2014 |

Deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico has now surpassed levels from before the 2010 BP spill, following the initial six-month moratorium.

Just before the spill, the Gulf of Mexico had, on average, 42 rigs for gas and oil exploration.Today, however, that number has climbed to 60, with the majority of those rigs going to depths over 500 feet.

The Port of Fourchon is seemingly the “epicenter” of deep-water drilling in the Gulf, servicing 75 percent of the drilling.In fact, drilling at the Port is growing so rapidly that companies are looking for property faster than the Port Commission can provide it.In addition, the Port’s barometers of activity are also at levels at or above those before the spill, and federal regulators estimate that 95 percent of new projects in the Gulf use the Port of Fourchon as their base.

Says Executive Director of the Port, Chett Chiasson, “Deepwater is driving things.”

Deepwater drilling expenses can top $1 million per day and $100 million for a well, which means that more of the major companies will collaborate on the biggest projects.And the “more risk equals more reward” attitude that Louisiana fosters seems to continue attracting large companies to this area of the Gulf.

According to John Westwood, Chairman of Douglas-Westwood, "The days of easy oil are gone.These are not cheap wells. The options that are available are very expensive."

He went on to say that the price of oil has plateaued in recent years, and at the same time, the return on rapidly growing investment has fallen off.For example, though oil production increased 24 percent from 2000 to 2013, spending on discovering and extracting gas and oil jumped 374 percent in that same time frame.That said, the reigning thought is that technology will advance to make offshore projects much easier, and Westwood predicts that the worldwide oil demand will double by 2020.

According to Bill Henry, Royal Dutch Shell’s VP of Upstream Operations, exploration in the Gulf is expected to begin testing depths of 15,000 to 20,000 feet in the next six years, which will mean that a lot of local service companies will be seeking to keep up with those needs.That could mean an influx of new, local jobs, as well as a bump to local economy as even more large companies come in to take advantage of Louisiana’s resources.

A recent Rigzone survey showed that companies in the oil and gas industry have difficulty finding workers for all the available positions – 71% of respondents said that this was due to difficulty in finding qualified applicants.Now may be the time for those interested to pursue education in the field, as the boom shows no sign of slowing down.

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