old rigs and deeper drilling

In The Wall Street Journal today, an interesting Page One article titled, “Aging Oil Rigs, Pipelines Expose Gulf to Accidents,” says rightfully that the Deepwater rig blast earlier this year set off a fierce battle over deep-sea oil drilling. But the debate, The Journal says, has largely ignored another threat: The troubled state of offshore infrastructure that remains in place long after wells are drilled.

The report says more than 100 structures built in the 1940s and 1950s are still in operation. Click here to read the article.

In this month’s Mechanical Engineering magazine, our cover story tells of a new oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico that is producing from wells at depths that are unthinkable a generation ago.

The International Energy Agency estimated in 2005 that deepwater and ultra-deepwater rock formations contain as many as 300 billion barrels of recoverable oil, more than Saudi Arabia’s proven reserves.

These require a combination of large financial resources and command of specialized technology, much of it newly developed, to drill and produce oil fields at great ocean depths. BP’s Macondo well blowout demontrates that a lot can go wrong.

These two articles provide fodder for an interesting discussion.

1 Response to “old rigs and deeper drilling”

  1. December 17, 2010 at 2:55 am

    Should not “100 structures built in the 1940s and 1050s are still in operation” be 1950’s?

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The Editor

John G. Falcioni is Editor-in-Chief of Mechanical Engineering magazine, the flagship publication of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

December 2010

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