Gulf heats up with high rig counts and cutting-edge technology

04 24, 2013 by

Activity in the Gulf of Mexico is continuing to heat up, with both operators and oil field services companies seeking ways to stake out their share of the market.

The U.S. Gulf of Mexico now has 37 active floating rigs, five more than the pre-Macondo count of 32 rigs, according to a Barclay’s analyst note on Tuesday morning. This number is expected to continue to grow, with 15 additional units scheduled to enter the market, 13 of which are new.

For operators, the cost of these new wells is tied to the time it takes to drill them, and oil field services companies are racing to provide the most efficient results.

Chevron and Halliburton’s Tuesday morning announcement is one such example. The two companies announced they have completed three offshore wells in the Gulf of Mexico using new Halliburton technology that shaved 18 days off the well completion time.

The technology, which is designed for work in the ultra-deep waters, stimulates a greater area within the reservoir in a shorter period of time than traditional methods, by reducing the number of trips needed to stimulate the well, according to a Halliburton press release issued Tuesday morning. It uses a combination of strong pumping power and a special formula of well fluids.

“Having to make multiple runs in and out of the wellbore equates to a large expense for operators,” said Ron Shuman, Senior Vice President of Halliburton’s Southern and Gulf of Mexico regions in a written statement. “The ‘single trip’ element of this system provides significant time savings with improved reliability and better asset optimization.”

The incentive to develop these kinds of technology improvements is likely to continue if activity in the Gulf reaches the rate predicted by Barclays — an estimated 52 rigs in 2014 and as many as 60 by 2015.