Wednesday, June 09, 2010

BP's Record Growth in Gulf of Mexico

Reuters reported BP's oil output from the Gulf of Mexico tripled the previous record:

"By far the biggest contribution to production growth came from the U.S., with output rising by 460,000 bpd, the strongest increase since 1970," Christof Ruehl, BP's chief economist, said at a conference for the release of BP Statistical Review of World Energy.

"It was driven by offshore production in the Gulf of Mexico, which grew by 390,000 bpd, triple the previous record growth."

New oil fields and limited disruptions by hurricanes sustained the output increase in the gulf, which accounts for about 28 percent of U.S. oil output, he said.

I reported data from BP's 20-F on the company's Gulf of Mexico production sites. The SEC filing states production grew to 387,000 bpd, not by 390,000 bpd. Who expects accuracy from BP people?

Drilling further into the data, Thunderhorse is mostly responsible for the big increase, producing 133,000 bpd. This rate is within Matt Simmon's range of 100,000 to 150,000 bpd for the Deepwater Horizon spill.

Oil Drum
reported Thunderhorse staved off a catastrophic spill in 2003.

In May 2003, the Transocean drillship Discoverer Enterprise, under contract from BP, was getting ready to pull out of a nearly-completed development well for the Thunderhorse project in the Gulf of Mexico, about 40 miles south of the current (2010) spill at the Macondo prospect. For some reason, the ship was dragged off its position such that the riser reaching down 6000 feet to the well at the seafloor was snapped off in two places. In this case, a blind-shear ram blow out preventer (BOP) did its job, sealing off the well below and preventing what could have been the largest U.S. oil spill. As it was, the only thing spilled was the drilling mud remaining in the various riser pieces dangling from the ship, buried in mud, or stuck vertically into the seafloor.
Drilling for oil must be like politics, ugly at the detail level. Recall President Obama's lecture on the financial crisis, which turned into:

I believe we are going to need to increase domestic oil production.
Sausage making produces oil as a byproduct, doesn't it?

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