The capex in deepwater exploration will jump 69% by 2019; the race to expand in Brazil is indeed happening.

Exxon Mobil, the only big oil company without a major foothold in Brazil, is in talks to gain access to the country’s prized deep-water resources. 

Shell doubles deepwater production and invests $10 billion in Brazil. 

This investment makes perfect business sense despite the low oil price because your upstream business must be anchored in a major state player at times of low break-even prices.

Deepwater Brazil is one of the most important oil frontiers. Don't just take our word for it.

With as much as 50 billion barrels of recoverable resources, Brazil, some analysts say, has the opportunity to emerge as the world’s fifth-largest crude producer by 2025, behind only Saudi Arabia, Russia, the U.S. and Iraq.

“Everybody wants to get a piece of the pie,” said Kjetil Solbraekke, senior vice president for South America at consultancy Rystad Energy. “These are probably the most prolific, high-returning oil assets available in the world.” (WSJ report)

It is a true story: deepwater drilling business is up, but sadly, not all are meant to succeed.

The challenge: The low crude oil price sinks to a new low and might just stay there.

So ensuring commercial viability of deepwater exploration to first oil can be a wild goose chase. 

Oil companies have piled on debt as profits dwindled amid low oil prices, that will force you to rethink your commitment to high-cost mega projects.

Big oil companies such as Exxon Mobil and BP PLC have abandoned extravagant project bets they made at $100 a barrel—in favor of cheaper, quicker ventures in Texas shale country, the Middle East and Brazil.

Shell is going lean, focusing on smaller-scale projects that produce “first oil” faster.

The company’s longstanding objective of increasing production and replenishing reserves, costs be damned, has taken a back seat to delivering returns to shareholders on every single barrel pumped.

With onshore shale oil flooding the market, Shell executives are concerned when crude, currently around $50 a barrel, will fetch more again. And with electric cars and other technologies threatening to eat into demand, they believe the world’s thirst for oil may peak as soon as the end of next decade.

Shell’s top executives stop short of saying the mega-drill era is gone forever.

No oil and gas operator will be comfortable spending $10 billion to $20 billion on moonshot projects. Operator investment returns have fallen from 25-30% to 10-15%. It has become abundantly clear that the industry has to fundamentally reassess how it goes about the business of developing complex, capital-intensive upstream projects in general and deepwater projects in particular, especially in what could be a substantial period of low oil prices. 

That means deepwater projects have to be able to compete on price with opportunities operating companies have in shale and in onshore basins around the world.

Then there's another challenge: Is your equipment going to be reliable when you are pushed to drill in greater depths?

In the last three to four years, deepwater development capex inflation has been outpacing inflation of oil and gas prices, which have plateaued and dropped by half in the past year. Capex of many deepwater projects routinely exceed $5 billion, driving them into the so-called "mega project" category. Even major operators and contractors with sophisticated project management processes and capabilities are struggling to achieve acceptable commercial results in these circumstances.

Cost inflation of goods and services has accounted for much of the capex and opex inflation since 2004. However, geographic, geologic, and geopolitical trends also conspire to significantly drive up the cost, complexity, and unpredictability of today's deepwater projects. 

What technology concept are you going to choose? And how confident will your team be in that decision that it's going to work?

Because of equipment reliability issues, BP has sold off roughly $75 billion worth of assets, slashed spending and worked to bring down costs to cope with the dual challenges of its Gulf of Mexico liabilities and slumping oil prices over the past six years.

Because of the complexity of offshore production and as flow rates, hydrocarbon mix, and other factors become clearer, the premise for the specific designs can be wildly inaccurate, impacting the effectiveness of the vessel. Because each field development is unique, one-off designs have been employed, leading to a fleet of units with varying characteristics.

This brings difficulties when redeployment is required and increases the need for conversions and re-conversions, often the most challenging engineering, procurement, and construction projects when unknown qualities and difficulties arise throughout the latter stages of development. This has led to cost overruns above the already-high industry average.

The companies whose project teams can deliver the lowest cost-per-foot reservoir will be favored.

Prepare your team at DEEPWATER BRAZIL 2017 and ensure a resilient, profitable deepwater business.

By now you’ve already paid too much just to go through the learning curve.

The Center for Energy Sustainability and Economics, together with partners from the deepwater industry in Brazil and oil service companies, has designed an agenda that will ensure our deepwater project teams are prepared for the lowest cost-per-foot reservoir delivery.

Bring your project teams to attend DEEPWATER BRAZIL 2017 and be able to:

  1. Cut down lengthy development times by selecting the "first oil faster" technology concept for a deepwater platform (e.g. FPSO, semi-sub, or Spar), one of the most critical decisions your engineering leaders will have to make
  2. Evaluate the right equipment suppliers as oil spills from blowouts can result in fines close to $17 billion
  3. Establish your drilling rig supply chain in a tight deepwater rig market and cut down the long wait for ordering new equipment
  4. Avoid making suboptimal decisions in scaling your operations, using new technologies that enable more accurate data points
  5. Catch up with the new normal for break-even targets by keeping updated with project management, value assurance procedures, and market conditions, and prevent your deepwater order books from bleeding

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