Tupi, the new kid in town

On the morning of November 12th a friend called me saying that the largest oil field in the world had just been found off Brasil. I then explained to him what the largest oil field in the world was like, and how implausible that information was.

In fact since the late hours of the previous day the media was reporting “the largest world oil find in the last 20 years". Once again our energy problems were over, goodbye 90 dollar oil and so on.

Déja vu? Didn't this all happen last year with the Jack field in the Gulf of Mexico?

Jack was a media stunt that mistaken an assessment of an entire layer corresponding to the Lower Tertiary with a single field. Fireworks came and went, oil prices came down and went up to stay one year later 20 dollars above the price just prior to Jack's announcement. As of now it is unknown when production from that layer will start.

Last week the name was Tupi, a field found by Petrobras in the Campos Basin off Brasil; with prospects of 5 to 8 Gb of intermediate gravity oil (28º API) and gas, it boosted the country's reserves of hydrocarbons by 50%. A remarkable find (for today's standards) announced again in a period of high prices.

It took some days for the dust to settle down and for a clear picture to emerge from the various and sometimes contradictory reports circling in the press; something reminiscent of the lack of preparation by some journalists to deal with this kind of information.

What is it?

First of all, does 5 to 8 Gb refer to oil in place or recoverable reserves? During the first reports the field was given as capable of producing 100 Kb/d, a number that indicated lower reserves making those 8 Gb sound like oil in place. Later in the week the production target was given as high as 4 Mb/d then settling at 400 Kb/d, reassuring that the numbers given were in fact recoverable reserves. Petrobras' officials were stated as directly using those terms.

Is Tupi a single field? The information available at the moment and the quotes from Petrobras' geologists point to that. Tupi is either a single field or a complex of closely lying reservoirs in an area some 800 Km long by 200 Km wide of pre-salt rock formations under a column of water ranging from 2000 to 3000 meters deep.

What's the oil to gas ratio? An important question, given the field's depth the temperatures could be high enough to form gas, and most media reports refer to “oil and gas reserves". It is likely that at this stage the company itself may not know exactly what's this ratio and hence the large reserves interval given.

As for the production schedule, first oil is placed in different places in time by different media sources, but none points to earlier than 2011. There's an obligatory two year gap to get the equipment from the current tight rig market and at least two more years to get commercial oil flows. A possible calendar:

First drilling 2009
First production at 100 Kb/d 2011 - 2013
Peak/plateau production at 400 Kb/d 2015

At some point there were reports of production reaching 4 Mb/d, which were likely confusing the overall company targets with the field's target. Recent reports state a company target of 4.5 Mb/d and 400 Kb/d for Tupi in 2015. Khebab made the following calculations using the Pickering relation:

Region Parameters Max. Production (Kb/d)
World (Small Fringe) 0.0435 / 0.0418 260 - 390
Cantarell (Mexico) 2.1 / 11 1000 - 1500
Statfjord (Norway) 0.637 / 5.53 580 - 920
Ekofisk (Norway) 0.299 / 5.10 290 - 470

These numbers put in perspective what Tupi represents globally, at its peak the field will produce less than half a percent of the world oil production. Even if the higher estimate of 8 Gb is confirmed, the field's reserves represent 14 weeks of world oil consumption.

The Challenge

Nonetheless, with the information gathered Tupi looks for real and not just another media stunt. A major piece of insight was published in the journal O Estado de São Paulo this weekend, were several experts were interviewed. Tupi is a real technological challenge, lying in a geological setting never before approached in Brasil.

The pre-salt layer is found under water depths that vary between 2000 and 3000 meters, after which there's a layer of 2000 meters of rock. The salt layer itself is also some 2000 meters deep and only after that is found the reservoir.

Sketch of the pre-salt layer setting.

Petrobras is today exploring fields over 5000 meters deep from water line to the reservoir; Tupi's depth by itself does not frighten the world leader in offshore exploration. The problem is the salt layer through which it has to be drilled. Nelson Ebecken from the Coordination of Post-Doctoral Engineering Programmes (COPPE) of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) had this to say:

We have to develop that technology. [...] If that layer was onshore it would be difficult. Imagine then at three or four thousand meters deep.

Drilling through layers of salt has been done in other places, but not at that depth, neither through such thickness.

At such depths, under immense pressure and warmed by the planet's internal heat the salt behaves more like a fluid than a rock. It is like drilling through jelly, a hole is opened but closes immediately after. Well maintenance in these conditions can be problematic; Edison Prates de Lima, also from the UFRJ:

The rock is hard but stable. The salt isn't as hard but it's unstable.

A difficult task, but at the reach of Brasilian engineering. Giuseppe Bacoccolli from COPPE's Laboratory of Computational Methods in Engineering put it this way:

I don't see a paradigm break, it is another evolution.

But there's a problem: cost, that grows exponentially with depth. Bacoccolli again:

We may reach the conclusion that we can, but we shouldn't. Defeating the salt layer implies a considerable additional cost.

COPPE has presently three hyperbaric chambers that allow to replicate the operating conditions at depths up to 6000 meters, were the equipment used in drilling is tested. A fourth chamber that will be able to replicate operating conditions up to 7000 meters deep is being built, that will start operating by the beginning of 2009. Drilling at the mentioned depths has to be made entirely by robots operated remotely. “It's like driving a Formula 1 car entirely from the pit box" said Segen Estefan also from COPPE.

Other problems include the thermal shock oil endures when it gets out of the rock layer, in the reservoir temperatures could be close to 100 º C and at the ocean floor crude meets temperatures as low as 4 º C. The crude can create high density bulbs that block the flow to the surface. This problem can be mitigated with pipe heating or insulation. The pipes themselves can be problematic due to their weight in steel, making the experts from COPPE contemplate the use of titanium.

The question comes down to cost, as Segen Estefan puts it:

We are operating in the limits of technology. The problem is cost, if it will be too expensive or not.

The first well drilled in the Tupi field cost 240 million dollars, a number that fell to 60 million in later field assessments. A total of 15 wells were drilled through the salt layer with 8 of these reaching the hydrocarbon reservoir. Giuseppe Bacoccolli expects the costs to fall even further to 30 million dollars per well during commercial operation. Still a number that implies a base price of at least 30 dollars per barrel of oil produced, four times Petrobras' present cost of deep offshore production and not factoring in equipment costs. Bacoccolli thinks that the operations will require between 6 and 12 FPSO platforms, each connected to 10 to 15 wells.

Also according to Giuseppe Bacoccolli further volumes of recoverable reserves can be confirmed, depending on new assessments to be made on the remaining of the pre-salt layer where Tupi was found.


All things considered, Tupi seems a markedly different case from last year's announcement of Jack. Scrutinizing the information circulated by the media leads to a sound picture of a field buried at the current technological offshore exploration frontier. Judging by the Brasilian academics' excitement, cost can in fact be the limiting factor but not technology by itself.

A final question should be answered, was Petrobras needing this kind of media attention? In reality it doesn't look so. Petrobras is the most profitable private company (of all commercial sectors) in South America, posting almost 9 billion dollars solely in the first nine months of this year.

Current reliable world 2P crude reserves lay somewhere around 800 Gb; given that:

a) 1000 Gb of crude have already been produced and

b) most reliable models point to a crude URR of 2000 Gb or higher,

there are still at least 200 Gb of crude oil yet to find. This implies that entire oil regions the size of the North Sea are yet to be discovered. The pre-salt layer of the Campos Basin off Brasil, where Tupi was found, may well be one of those.

The press release by Petrobras can be read here.

Further information in the brasilian media (in portuguese):

O Estado de São Paulo

Cosmo On Line

A Tarde

Luís de Sousa,
The Oil Drum: Europe

Interesting. So Tupi represents something more real than Jack. However it still

represents globally, at its peak ... less than half a percent of the world oil production

which is the key metric.

If you were to reverse the marketing spin effect, that suggests you would need to hear claims of reserves in the +20Gb range to relate to a find which could hit the 1Mbpd level needed to make a change to the price of fish?

Plus "800 Km long by 200Km wide" suggests a fragmented field, pushing up costs.

Tupi does not cover that area entirely, it is just a small part of it and most likely a single reservoir.

That's why there's so much excitement about it, this could be just the first field of a larger complex.

Regarding "I then explained to him what the largest oil field in the world was like, ...," I would like to read your explanation. What was the largest oil field in the world like?

Cannot find much on the geology.

Just this so far.


For one, the oil lies some 4.5 miles beneath the ocean’s surface. To reach it, Petrobras will have to run lines through 7,000 feet of water and then drill up to 17,000 feet through sand, rock, and a massive salt layer. A decade ago, geologists lacked the tools to glimpse beneath these salt layers, which can be more than a mile thick offshore Brazil. Today, with the help of data-crunching supercomputers, 3D imaging of ultradeep subsalt layers is illuminating billions of barrels of new oil. Geologists say the discoveries challenge one of the notions of the peak oil theory, which claims oil companies already have found nearly all of the world’s usable oil.

Note the snide dig at peak oil.

This bit is interesting:

Geologist Roberto Fainstein, whose seismic imaging work at oil-field services company Schlumberger helped Brazil to discover its massive new reserves, says the subsalt find will “lead to a rush in this kind of drilling worldwide.” Brazil’s discovery may quicken subsalt drilling in the Gulf of Mexico by oil majors and Mexico’s state-run oil giant Pemex. A salt layer offshore West African countries including Angola, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea is “virtually identical to Brazil’s,” Fainstein says, “so companies will race to begin drilling it.”

What to say?
1. Well first of all congratulations to Petrobras and the People of Brazil!
2. Eight billion is nice and handy, but it is not big (just big by modern standards)
3. Maybe more on both sides of the Atlantic and some possibly useful finds in the future
4. Massive technical challenges and costs.
5. Although anti Peakists will use this as ‘evidence’ that PO is not here, Tupi changes nothing in reality. By the time Tupi oil is flowing, Production flows elsewhere will have dropped, offsetting Tupi gains.

For size comparisons go here:


Ghawar is an outlier. It's like “huge”. The reservoir is almost an aberration.

The probability to find something like it again is zero. To put it in contest, another field like Ghawar would cut in half the “yet to find” reserves, from 200 Gb to 100 Gb.

Luis - just to remind everyone not eating Turkey, Ghawar has a fabulous seal - able to hold back a 1300 ft oil column - that is the secret. And 2000 m of salt is also a fabulous seal - if the salt does seal the structure.

The layer where Tupi was found has more than enough area to harbour a reservoir the size of Ghawar (800Km x 200Km). But Tupi's reservoir is much smaller (if in fact it's only one).

Beyond the seal that holds a deep oil column, Ghawar is even more impressive because of the incredible extent of the reservoir, a cavity almost 300 Km long.

Ghawar is even more impressive because of the incredible extent of the reservoir, a cavity almost 300 Km long.

The reservoir is a cavity? I never realised that.

If you mean an open space filled only with oil, its not.

As I recall, Prudhoe Bay was ~13 GB, half again the estimated size of Tupi, and this in an onshore operation without the deepwater technological challenges.

I can see, at least in the first few years after the first oil gets flowing, a process similar to that which has taken place with Thunderhorse. Production by fits and starts as the realities of each challenge are met and resolved - or not.

It will be an interesting process given the 'limits of technology' and also that as the next few years go by a number of chaotic things will be happening including crazy oil prices and technological and logistical bottlenecks.

Purdhoe Bay is a interesting field.


In a sense it straddles the time between old technology and new. The original estimates using primitive to us technology and with production upgraded with newer technology including water injection.


I wonder what the URR claims would be if the field was found today ? I happen to treat it and the North Sea production as straddling the cusp between estimates we can feel comfortable with and ones that are suspect. In general the trend seems to be to use OIP numbers as URR since about 1980 or so onwards and in some cases inflated OIP estimates.

I guess it would be wishful thinking on our part to hope that the MSM would gain the expertise and wisdom to put these discoveries in context. As long as our discovery rate is not keeping up with our production rate and given our continuing increase in demand, perhaps at an accelerated rate, narrowly focusing on each discovery just serves to confuse the issue and confuse the public. Until we discover another easily accessible planet with lots and lots of oil, we should proceed under the conviction that oil cannot keep up with demand, leaving aside the eternal debate about whether we have peaked or when we will peak.

We are left, however, to drunkenly stagger and swagger into the future under the apparent conviction that divine intervention will give us the oil necessary to, for example, fuel automobiles for at least half of the Chinese population and much of India and the rest of the world. The Chinese, Indians, Americans, and others need to be given the message:

With a nod to Kunstler "Above all else, make other arrangements"

But nooooo!!!

An excellent piece, Luis. Thank-you.

It's natural that most folks don't want peak oil to happen. So they look for hope in the oddest places. Americans will demand oil from those horrible oil companies because there is obviously lots of oil in the ground and those companies are just hiding it to jack the prices up. After all, it is there for the taking only 3 miles deep through water, salt and rock. Peak oil is part geology, part economics and a lotta politics to come. There may be huge deposits of oil available which will not be tapped because the costs will exceed financial returns. A going rate of $500/barrel may be inadequate to recover the cost of drilling deep.

God I hope we find a bunch of North Seas!!

That will help us to kill off the planet in STYLE!!!

I see these people who wish for more and more oil as nothing less than arms dealers, enablers of mass murder, cheerleaders of planetary death.

No, Cherenkov, tell us what you really think!! Okay, I will.

People who wish for more oil may as well be pleading for all serial killers and child rapists to be released from prison, be given immunity from prosecution, and relocated into housing near schools.

Wishing for more oil is shamelessly sociopathic behaviour given what we know about fossil fuel's effect upon the global environment.

If not for all the decent people out there who truly want to stop this runaway train, I would simply say, good enough, let the humans kill off the human plague. Perhaps the rest of the Earth's biota will be able to carry on in this world we have so successfully damaged.


What Cherenkov said.

Dude, humanity occupies a blip on a pinhead on the scale of cosmic chronology. We're riding a mote of dust floating directionless in the universal gymnasium.

Why does it matter what we do to the planet?

Hmmm...well said...reality is a matter of perspective.

Why does it matter what we do to the planet?

This is a seriously great line.

It would be perfect on my neighbor's HUMMER. Not the bush bars either, right on the freaking door.

Heck... might as well put it on the F-250 too.

Why does it matter what we do to the planet?

'cos we could be dancing //
on the only green world//
that's turning //
around a sun //

Find me some aliens and I'll be a little less fussed.

Jaymax (cornucomer-doomopian)

Find me some aliens and I'll be a little less fussed.

You see, this is where the logic loops.

1. Cherenkov jumps up and down like an idiot, shouting we have a duty to preserve the biota of the Earth.
2. Then someone asks just why is the Earth so special, out of the billions of planets in the Universe?
3. The Earth is special we are told, because it harbors intelligent life - i.e. humans.

You often see the same loop in environmental arguments -
"we need to preserve the environment"
"because it supports human life".

So as you follow the circle from gung-ho capitalist cornucopian around to rabid eco-facist doomer Cherenkov the end point is the same: they all want to perpetuate human life as long as possible.

The Earth can easily absorb anything that humans can throw at it, there is no need to worry in that regard. Just don't fool ourselves that anyone cares about the Earth other than for the fact it happens to be the seat of the human race.

Ever hear of catastrophic positive feedback loops? The kind that releases methane from the permafrost releasing more methane from permafrost that . . .

So no Earth. just another Venus. or is it Mercury?

The Venus thing is pure BS, can't happen. People who say that are completely ignorant about geoscience, and that unfortunately includes certain people who should know better shooting their mouth off.

All the methane etc, is sequestered carbon that has all been in the atmosphere at some point already. The Earth has been far warmer in the past, you do know we live in an Ice Age?

A map for the lost


So, are you are implying an earlier species on this planet burned up a major portion of stored carbon on this rock?

Carbon gets recycled all the time. Currently, the bulk of the worlds carbon endowment is locked into Carbonate rocks such as chalk and limestone, and in truly massive quantities.

The uniqueness of the last 3000 years (an augenblik for geological time) is that humans have put a pulse of carbon into the atmosphere. BUT vulcanicity has and still could beat man's puny attempts. But we have pulsed carbon and at a very high rate over the last 200 years, more so in the last 50.

Is AGW a worry? course it is, assuming we survive PO.

I will worry about AGW if we get through the next 15 years without a major civilisation killer like PO.

Hey, I like your priorities ;)

For those interested, here's some of that chalk

That's about 35 million years there, I guess the chalk layer goes deeper than you can see here. I think it's amazing that all that chalk was dumped by trillions of microscopic marine organisms - the remains of their "shells" made from calcium carbonate.

Buried carbon looks quite spectacular.

Yes, it is very impressive. Makes us pale in insignificance by comparison. But what would happen if the mechanism that trapped all of that carbon, lets say a great reduction in sea animals such as corals and plankton, broke down? Good thing the oceans are in perfect condition to recycle all of that carbon.

"all of that carbon" has already been trapped.

I'm more concerned about the effects of global warming. Peak oil I can personally prepare for (and I have as I am fairly well ensconced on my small self sufficient farm in a sparsely populated area). But global warming could be the double whammy that wipes out many of the survivors, some of which could carry on the culture which is worth saving.

The other way round. Carbon that was present in the primeval biosphere is employed in organic processes, creating carbon compounds, some of which get buried (or end up in deep ocean). Over millions of years the amount of carbon in the biosphere goes down.

Volcanic processes recycle the buried carbon eventually, but this is a slow process and life has been quicker at burying it. Vulcanism has reduced as the Earth cools. Occasionally the process gets a big kick and a lot of carbon is dumped back into the biosphere, possibly by massive meteorite strikes.

A Brief History of Earth: A guide for recent arrivals

another GW denier. hardly worth a debate.

For the record, I fully agree with all the past and current climate science in the IPCC reports.

Where I would differ is the projections of the IPCC on CO2 emissions do not take into account PO, or any declining availability of FF, and are therefore seriously flawed in that respect. James Hansen has published his own paper on the subject which I regard as realistic. It still gives cause for concern, but even Hansen says that the high estimates of the IPCC are very unlikely.

On Venus, this is what RealClimate (real climate scientists, not deniers) have to say:

The runaway greenhouse that presumably led to the present Venus is an extreme form of the water vapor feedback that amplifies the effect of CO2 increases on Earth. Is there a risk that anthropogenic global warming could kick the Earth into a runaway greenhouse state? Almost certainly not. For an atmosphere saturated with water vapor, but with no CO2 in it, the threshold absorbed solar radiation for triggering a runaway greenhouse is about 350 Watts/m2 (see Kasting Icarus 74 (1988)). The addition of up to 8 times present CO2 might bring this threshold down to around 325 Watts/m2 , but the fact that the Earth's atmosphere is substantially undersaturated with respect to water vapor probably brings the threshold back up to the neighborhood of 375 Watts/m2. Allowing for a 20% albedo (considerably less than the actual albedo of Earth), our present absorbed solar radiation is only about 275 Watts/m2, comfortably below the threshold. The Earth may well succumb to a runaway greenhouse as the Sun continues to brighten over the next billion years or so, but the amount of CO2 we could add to the atmosphere by burning all available fossil fuel reserves would not move us significantly closer to the runaway greenhouse threshold. There are plenty of nightmares lurking in anthropogenic global warming, but the runaway greenhouse is not among them.

It is easy to cast ad homs, but anyone can read an accurate take on the science at RealClimate. There is no excuse for ignorance.

Two comments:
1) Can you give a reference to Hansen's discussion in re. limits to atmospheric CO2?

2) Earth differs significantly from Venus in that on Earth life has developed. Life forms have developed that have sequestered vast amounts of CO2 in carbonate rocks. If there were some reason for mankind to mine all the limestone deposits, and turn them to quicklime (using nuclear power as the energy source, maybe) THEN we would have real problems with atmospheric CO2!

1) Can you give a reference to Hansen's discussion in re. limits to atmospheric CO2?

I think BobCousins is refering to Hansen's paper we discussed here?
Implications of "Peak Oil" for Atmospheric CO2 and Climate

If there were some reason for mankind to mine all the limestone deposits, and turn them to quicklime (using nuclear power as the energy source, maybe)

Cement production is already a big source of CO2 emissions.

Nuh uh, you have a logical flaw in your argument, the one I was trying to point to...

because it harbors intelligent life - i.e. humans.

NOT i.e. humans. e.g. humans maybe a little

Three separate points:

1) Some of this is about terran biodiversity generally. something like 200 species a day (mostly beetles, admitted) going extinct. One argument, in line with what I said but contrary to your rebuttal, is the www.vhemt.org approach. That recognizes the potentially unique situation of the earthen biosphere, while regarding humanity as utterly dispensable (only one species vs millions). Can the current, potentially unique 'green' biosphere survive "Why does it matter what we do to the planet?" [no one really knows the answer to that - we're all agreed life will hang on somehow though]

2) This is a matter of philosophy, and therefore not necessarily something to be agreed, but when a planet or a solar system gains the ability to reach out and communicate with other planets/solar systems - that is not, qualitatively, something that need be distinctively 'human' - but as yet, we've no proof one way or the other that it's been achieved elsewhere - therefore it would be 'wrong' to set the universe back a few millenias development, to wipe out the like of local-galactic-area radio communications which may well be unique (or even near-unique) in the universe - we don't have that right.

3) finally, I think you miss the point about evolution - we're programmed, since long before we were human - to promote our genetics, our life, our continuation. That's NOT about being human, it's about being ALIVE - whatever than means - and supporting the biosphere helps support us, not as humans, but just as living things doing what living things OUGHT (especially ones claiming to be 'rational')

You saying "that's circular" has even less validity than the circular argument itself, unless you can present some argument beyond "The Earth can easily absorb anything that humans can throw at it" - which is both a truism, and irrelevant to the point being made, which is goes much deeper than "the fact it happens to be the seat of the human race"

Jaymax (cornucomer-doomopian)

it's about being ALIVE - whatever than means

Being alive is about energy storage. Life forms are batteries which store energy (indirectly) from the source of all life on this planet, the sun, for later use. And succesful life forms are able to replicate that ability. The reward for being alive is that stored energy is available when needed to perpetuate life. The meaning of life is to replicate and pass on the magic programming code (DNA) to enable perpetuation of energy storage. Evolution occurs to ensure that life fills every possible niche energy gathering habitat on the planet, diversification of the portfolio if you will. A comet may destroy dinosaurs and humanity, but life will survive in smaller, less energy intensive niches, thanks to diversification. It was inevitable that some species would be become as dominant as the naked ape because the need for energy storage (life) is programmed, ie. there's nothing that can stop the programmed need to store the sun's energy. You want to understand the meaning of life? Think energy storage.

One argument, in line with what I said but contrary to your rebuttal, is the www.vhemt.org approach. That recognizes the potentially unique situation of the earthen biosphere, while regarding humanity as utterly dispensable (only one species vs millions).

VHEMT is indeed where I am coming from. There are shades of Green. How "Green" are you?"

My point is that the deciding question between True Greens and "Green but let's keep humans" is whether you think humans should be phased out or not, and often those who profess to be concerned about "the planet", i.e. not just humans, fall short.

Those people who pretend to be True Greens are mostly fakes. They have kids. They want a good future for their kids. They are also hypocrites, because they want to propagate their own DNA while demanding others make sacrifices. If you are a True Green, you do not have kids.

If you think humans should continue, you are qualitatively in agreement with the cornucopians. The only difference is a question of the scale of human presence, and a question of tactics, i.e. the preferred way for humans to utilise the Earth.

No one has a choice about what other people do. The only choice you can effectively make is whether to have kids or not.

I emailed the VHEMT guy a few years ago asking why he was taking such an extreme approach to the whole idea of humans vs the planet, and his response was that a less extreme view would not get as much notice/debate. His personal view was that less humans could live harmoniously with the planet, but would not happen with current thinking (paraphrased from memory). I thought is ideas were quite good... and was part of what lead me on the search that culminated in finding out about PO/energy.

"You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created."
Albert Einstein


"Why does it matter what we do to the planet?"

A guy goes to a brothel in Hong Kong, and selecting a suitable partner, goes to the room and starts to get ready. When he drops his shorts, the woman giggles and says 'Who are you going to make happy with that thing?' .. and he just smiles and says 'Me.'


What 'matters' is not an issue of cosmic morality.. it matters to us. It may be true that our irresponsible actions during the age of giddy industrialism are not going to 'Kill the Earth'.. just a great number of its inhabitants.. but that doesn't absolve us. It's US we must answer to.. not the universe.

'Don't think you can kill time without injuring eternity.'
- Thoreau


:) Ah, you modest writer, you...

"You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created."
Albert Einstein


Thanks for that reply. Excellent answer to a silly question ;-)


I wonder why TIME refers to TOD as a "motley crew"?

I see these people who wish for more and more oil as nothing less than arms dealers, enablers of mass murder, cheerleaders of planetary death.

Intent matters; and ignorance and evil are not the same thing.

Being stupid isn't a crime. They're still stupid of course, and you're allowed to hate them -almost- as much. :-)
Jaymax (cornucomer-doomopian)

It is interesting to witness the almost universally positive media (and individual) reaction to finding more oil - given than when produced its combustion will increase the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. Pretty much everyone is in agreement that increasing atmospheric concentrations of CO2 is a bad thing - so why the joy in further oil finds, the production of which is guaranteed to increase CO2?

It just shows how far we are, despite recent media interest, from achieving any kind of useful response to climate change.

Chris, I'm of mixed mind about wanting more oil to be found. On the one hand I hate the stuff, and the wasteful way we have been using it. On the other I think a slow production decline would be a lot easier to manage than a rapid one. I also think ten more years of oil/gas might be sufficient to avoid a dangerous rush to exploit coal/oil shale etc. Once infrastructure for the later has been built, it will be that much harder to stop it. Given that magic ten-year window of opportunity, renewables will have a chance to become a real alternative. If we are in fact given this window (no done deal for sure) we had better put it to good use.

Thanks, Chris, for this observation.

I have long thought that a slow change in oil availability would be better than a fast one, because it will make adaptation easier.

However, after reading "6 Degrees" by Mark Lynas, I have come to think that we must get off the fossil fuels hook as quickly as possible if we even want to have a slim chance to save this planet from wiping humanity from its face, given the current trajectory of GHG emisssions.

This would mean to actively and consciously let the remaining oil, coal and gas fields be buried.

What is worse: Economic hardship or wholesale economic and ecologic destruction and mass starvation to arbitrarily low, possibly die-off levels?

The longer fossil fuels allow humanity to grow, the worse the collapse will get. Sorry, but this somehow means embracing severe crisis in order to prevent having to embrace extinction.



Yes,Cherenkov, we don't have the wisdom to use the resources we have, much less, some fantasy of infinite oil as in creamy nougat center. Those who worship the god of growth will not give up their illusions easily. Wouldn't it be prudent to move forward under the assumption that oil and all other resources are limited? No. We continue under the mainstream economists' illusions that there are no limits to oil or anything else as long as the price is high enough.

Sadly, much of the remaining biota will not fair well even with a radical reduction in human species. We have been given godlike powers and have blown it. If there is a God, he/she did not have a clue as to the nature of the monster that was being created.

Let us assume something close to the worst and attempt to construct a society based upon that assumption. It would be far worse to continue business as usual because the chances of recovery after the overshoot are slim to none.

But noooo!!! We cannot afford to stop the runaway train.

Since we are discussing Brazilian oil production, I thought I would post a reminder of this 2003 article quoting Wood MacKenzie saying Brazilian oil production was likely to peak in 2007:

"In the short-term Brazil is still on the map, but something has to be done in the tax area to make new discoveries commercial, plus technological advances are needed to pump heavy oil from extreme depths," she said.

Geddes added that under present conditions, Brazil's output was likely to rise in the next few years and peak in 2007. But the increase only was "masking the bad news that it will enter a steep decline post-2007," she said.

Looking at the latest production figures, published today it does seem that Brazilian production has stagnated, and in fact it has now fallen for four months in a row.

Of course, Tupi may make a big difference, but it could be that when the field does start to produce, other Brazilian production will be declining.

They always ask the same: tax reductions and privatization.

They want to keep the government off those reserves. But Governments, Nations, have strategic plans that the free market don't care about.

Petrobras with its mixed model has done far better for Brasil than Argentina's YPF - now Repsol YPF - for my country.

Privatization allowed YPF to transform Argentina from a country with oil to an oil exporter. It seems ok, but you have to consider that all the exploration was done by YPF when it was government owned - no new fields have been found despite almost 15 years of privatization.

YPF was bougth by Spain's Repsol during the 90's.

A large part of that oil was burnt overseas and now Argentina faces a grim future.

I could see the possibility that Tupi and other deepwater finds could create a second peak for worldwide production similar to what Prudhoe Bay did for US production. OTOH, this surge in deepwater production has been anticipated from US deepwater Gulf of Mexico wells but has yet to materialize in a significant enough way to make a noticeable squiggle upward on the production graph.

Also, over the next decade, everything related to high-tech oil production will become more expensive as declining conventional oil and rising prices work there way through the economy. Costs for future deepwater production made at this point are IMO likely to be vastly understated as the future unfolds.

Petrobras is the most profitable private company (of all commercial sectors)

Isn't it controlled by the Brazilian government?

Composicao capital social

First of all, your link is wrong here it is correct:

Petrobras Shareholder Information

Thanks to point it anyway. In my view these companies opened to private investment are private companies. There will come a day when the government takes the steps for a capital raise and just loose the majority. Invariably that's the faith of these companies.

A final question should be answered, was Petrobras needing this kind of media attention?

In fact, yes. Even more so, the government, which has a tight control over Petrobras, does to.

The problem is gas. Petrobras had a contract in which it paid for a certain amount of gas to be imported from Bolivia no matter how much gas it actually needed. So the government spent a few years trying to get internal consumption up, in cars, industry and eletricity generation.

It was successful in that. And then, Bolivia government changed, Bolivian gas became more expensive, it's supply meager, and, on top of that, this years' rains have beens scarce.

And with the water reservoirs low, the government had no choice but to power up a few thermoeletric generators, for which Petrobras had no gas. And, thus, Petrobras was ordered to redirect gas to those generators, in detriment to all the people who had migrated to gas.

And, finally, with gas scarce and Bolivia jacking up it's prices, the price of the gas will go up to.

So, yes, Petrobras, and it's owner, the Brazilian government, was looking for good news.

Recycled news, too. This reservoir was announced one or two years back. At that time, the quality of the oil was unknown. They now know more, and re-announced the discovery.

Daniel Sobral

And it has had some impact here in Argentina, too. Some politician in Lula's government told our elected president that there was a strong possibility that fields similar to Tupi could be found in argentinian sea, maybe to help to setup a joint venture between Petrobras and Enargas or for some other obscure political motivation.

I've asked some geologists and they say that that's bullshit.

você brasileiro?

Daniel, thank you for this insight. As I said, financially the company is healthy, it wasn't needing this kind of attention - during the first 3 quarters of 2007 the company's value increased by 10% (correct me if I'm wrong I can't find the reference).

But I agree with you that the government was in need of good news in respect to gas. That's quite visible in the brasilian media coverage of Tupi.

I have made a summary on http://forums.oleocene.org/viewtopic.php?t=6448&postdays=0&postorder=asc...
Oleocene.org, of the technicalities of Tupi - why the Brasilians threw $1 bn at a deep-sea adventure many specialists thought hopeless. It seems to me the situation is a bit different :
- the Brasilians knew what they were looking for
- what they found (proved) is merely the beginning.

Brasil President Lula made a big annoucement of it, with good reason : this find is both a world class achievement, and a world class reservoir.

No reservoir, whatever its size, will cancel the final depletion of the earth oil ; but this "kid" will change a few world figures.

"A final question should be answered, was Petrobras needing this kind of media attention?"

Petrobras surely didn't need the attention. But it is hard to not notice the coincidence that this announcement was made shortly before a big crunch at Bovespa. A crunch that was easy to anticipate because the American stocks were already losing value by the time.

So, did Petrobras investors need that kind of media attention? Yes, they did. Did Petrobras just discover that field by the time of the announcement? No they knew it long before the announcement, but how well isn't published info.

so, to sum up:

Its a real find, unlike Jack last year, but what it will produce per day is, at best, about what the US alone burns in about half an hour.

Naïve question time:

With respect to the salt layer, why can't they just send a rigid tube down along with the drill bit?

Sure, that tube would be at least 2 km long, would have to be carefully inserted through the rock layer, and be able to withstand pressure from the depth and the encircling salt, among other things.
And I could foresee bad things happening if the tube were ever to break...

Drilling Salt.

Is done in open hole using a salt saturated mud (drilling fluid) or an oil based mud. This stops the hole from washing out (control of hole size is important) .

Salt drills fast and handling 2000 metres with one bit run is easy and in fact very important.

When you get to the base of the salt (but not in the reservoir) you pull the drill bit and run casing. This casing seals off the salt formation from the well and the casing is vital to counteract the plastic deformation of the salt.

You then pump cement around the base of the casing and up the sides of the casing to anchor the casing in place. With Time, the salt squeezes around the casing.

Then you drill the reservoir out with a smaller diameter drill bit than the inner diameter of the casing.

Trick is, not to keep the salt in open hole for any length of time.

Mudlogger - thanks for this great insight. So you're saying that you can actually drill the whole 2000 m salt layer in a oner - draw the drill string and insert casing before the well closes - its amazing! How many days would that operation take?

Salt is very easily drilled and brittle, breaking out under a bit quite easily. It is not abrasive so bit wear is rarely an issue. In fact, salt is so easily drilled that bit weight is frequently held back under controlled drilling.

2000 m is nothing for modern drill bits.

Controlled drilling could get you 1000 metres per day thats on 40 -60 metres per hour with drill pipe connections. Drilling it in 2 days would be easy. But no doubt they will go slower to allow for hole cleaning , circulation, back reaming and check trips.



-It is all salt (nice uniform halite, and set the cruise control...)
-No Anhydrites or Carbonates (esp if rafts containing high pressure gas)

Trick is: drill it quickly and cleanly, BUT ensuring good hole cleaning. No gas worries or trip- kicks if pure salt

Trip out, possibly back reaming if squeezing salts start to deform.

Run Casing to bottom. Smoothly and quickly. Do this and you have a game and you can cement it in place and you are safe

Drilling time is now the least improvable bit of a well construction: It can be drilled as fast as the geotechnical issues will allow. 'Flat time' - when not making hole is the bit that still lasts as long as it did in the 80's, though even this has been improved on modern rigs.

It is the water depth and pressure considerations that make the rigs expensive to build and run and hence the high day rates for this rigs and hence the high well costs.

Drilling salt is an engineering issue that can be resolved.

The things that ruin wells are topside issues: Weather, logistics, getting casing down, BOP downtime and equipment foul ups, and the deeper the water, the more complex the problems. If this slows down the casing run, then the greater the risk of plastic deformation of open salt formations.

Thats why I have tried scrounging around for a stratigraphic column of Tupi. Cant find any, but if I was Petrobras, I wouldnt want it out just yet. There may be other , similar systems that they dont want to open licence nearby.

2000 M of salt is a LOT of salt and overburden gradient will be high at these depths, but (as they have proved) not impossible to overcome.

I would love to know more about the geology and geotechnical issues, but they will publish in time probably at an SPE Conference or similar.

The thing is, If one has been found, then others are likely on both sides of the South Atlantic since these structures were formed before the Atlantic opened up to its current extent.

Usefull handy amounts, but another KSA is not likely.

Still. A good day for the Brazilians.

Thanks for these comments Mudlogger. So in your view we'll see this oil flowing?


The it can be drilled for and produced at a profit then yes.

This works at high oil prices and the teccnological issues can be solved at sustained high oil prices.

Will it change the sum of all things re PO?


While there's an opportunity...

I used to consult to government department. I remain kinda, umm, bewildered by the vast gap between:

a) the incredibly simple that the public sector manages to make sound absurdly complex, and routinely fails at, and

b) the incredibly complex that the oil industry manages to make sound absurdly simple, and routinely succeeds at

It's truly mind boggling what Govt cannot achieve, and oil can achieve, both given something resembling unlimited funding.

Wanna know where all you tax goes?
Jaymax (cornucomer-doomopian)

drilling with casing is being experimented with. unfortunately, i cant find the reference right at the moment. i believe there is a co. in the us promoting the idea. this (thick plastic salt section) would seem like a potential application.

indeed casing with drill pipe is not unheard of either.

As usual, M. King Hubbert had the best observation on reserves versus the peak. In 1956 he used two estimates for Lower 48 URR, a low case of 150 Gb and a high case of 200 Gb, resulting in his projected range for the Lower 48 peak of 1966 to 1971.

In other words, a one-third increase in URR delayed the projected peak by five years.

Considering that we are now producing around 288 mpd of water to produce around 80 mpd I now question the reliability of our reserve estimates in general. On average wells today are producing at a 80% water cut. I cannot fathom how anyone can consider given this that we are at 50% URR and still have 50% of the worlds oil to produce.


Now consider this current discovery it will eventually be booked I'm sure as some multi GB discovery and will be included in future URR estimates for world resources.

But lets say they finalize with a cliam of 6 GB full production at best is probably 2015 considering the technical issues 2020 is reasonable give it at least 10 year s at peak capacity and your out to about 2030 before we would see the field in decline.

Now lets calculate URR a differnt way. Lets assume that the project wont proceed unless they are assured of a production of between 200-400kb for ten years.

So 200 kb a day for ten years gives a production of 0.75 GB
and 400 kb a day for ten years gives a production of 1.5 GB
after then years even assuming the field lasts 20 years gives 1.5-3GB given that the average lifetime for most offshore fields at peak production is less than 20 years most often 10 or less we can conclude that even the low estimate of 5GB may be 2-4 times what is actually recovered.

Indeed North Sea fields with these sorts of production rates have URR around 2 GB or so much less than 5GB claimed.


In this you can also see that my assertion of a lifetime of 10-20 of peak production seems true.

So how many of the trillion barrels of oil we supposedly have left or real ? My conclusion is most are a complete work of fiction.

Great article Luis thanks very much.
Just one point - I believe the timescale for meaningful production is too optimistic; one only has to peruse the Megaprojects list to see how most major projects seem prone to on-going slippage. I would wager it would be a year or two more than envisaged before the targetted amount of oil really flows.

Luis, thanks for this great overview of Tupi - and especially the view for the Brazilian media.

The main point I'd make is that we need to hear this story once every 3 months forever - cos that's how long the 5-8 Gbs will last based on Global consumption.

So the MSM face a dilema here. If they truly believe in a BAU model for our future world economy, then they really need to ignore news such as Tupi - cos this is run of the mill - once every 3 months non-news.

So when was the last super-giant discovered? Jack - maybe - but we're all holding our breath. Kashagan - well yes - but we're still all holding our breath (hoping not to inhale SO2) - or to be caught holding stock in any of the equity holders.

Its worth noting that BG group, who hold 25% of Tupi, were also involved in Kashagan - but sold out - a very smart company.

The term supergiant should not really be used for Jack or Tupi.

IMO a supergiant exceeds 10 billion.

An Elephant exceeds 1 billion.

Trouble is the media use a term that once reflected fields like Ghawar, Burgan, Cantarell and Daqing.

Time will tell on Tupi, she may be the queen in a cluster and they have yet to find the King, and a few rooks and knights and pawns. Who knows?

I do know that supergiants, the fields that provide the motive force for 'Earth Incorporated' are unlikely.

Another nail:

Frontline is re-asigning 28 VLCC this year,40 in 2008 to other types of cargo.Scrapyard next?

So what do they intend to carry all of that billions and billions of barrels of oil that China will supposedly consume in, teacups? :-)


China building own ships.They don't like their cargos being traded underneath them.

"China building own ships."

I know they are building container ships, but are they going big into building oil supertankers?

I ask this honestly, as I really do not know the situation on tanker construction in the world...

If they are not, then their oil will have to be carried on somebodies ships....and if they are, then that means they still expect a huge oil flow, but they intend to be in the supertanker market themselves...either way, no indicator there of a lack of oil to ship, as the original link seemed to allude to.


China exports are using all available ships ; the industry cannot turn out ships fast enough. Have a look at the last Shanghai all-containers harbor.


I didn't know you COULD re-assign Very Large Crude Carriers to anything other than some form of liquid cargo..

So, in the next two years, some shipper will be taking 68 Very Large Crude Carrying ships off the crude haulage and onto "something else"...?

I can only see two reasons for this:

#1. They are in such a poor standard of maintenance (from the amount of work they have been doing, no doubt) that they are about to fall to bits; or

#2. They are an OK state of repair, but they are single-walled tankers.

Nice find but in the scope of things, won't make much difference. As I watch energy, I am continually reminded of what the last couple of hours on the Titanic must have been like. Some, from the get go, saw reality. Others had lots of wishful thinking and hung on every rumor. The pumps are handling it, I think we've stopped sinking, there are enough life boats, etc, etc. Others wouldn't believe it even as the ship sank beneath them. We are going to have lots of false hopes, lots of rumors and rumors of rumors. Maybe, could be, should be, oughta be, on and on. The nice thing about rumors is they get exaggerated in the telling. For me, levels of consumption and predicted consumption answer the question. That and the inability of the human animal to move until the fire is burning it's butt.

Up the string, Cherenkov said,

"God I hope we find a bunch of North Seas!!

That will help us to kill off the planet in STYLE!!!"

That is one aspect I was pointing out the other day in my post, "What if thing DO get better?", when I asked, exactly what is BETTER?

Cherenkov is expressing outrage, but just as much seems to be expressing real fear. What if....there are another few North Seas out there?

One would hope of course that the oil found will be used wisely, i.e., to help provide the energy needed for the transition to renewables and advanced "efficiency" technology. But what are the odds? The truth is, there is a danger of an oil price collapse and a new burst of wasteful consumption...what I once called "the last great carbon luxury bath."

As long as good oil is around, trying to get people to convert to efficiency is pretty much like asking a meth addict to convert to beer....it just don't give the same buzz does it? :-(

We still have no idea, and I mean NO IDEA how much oil is in the Brazil coastal region, the offshore areas of China, the offshore areas of West Africa, the "empty quarter" of Saudi Arabia, offshore in the Persion Gulf area.....despite claims to the contrary, there are vast areas of the world that are virtually non explored (I won't even mention the OCS (outer continental shelf) area of the U.S., which would be a political hot potato)

My point is the same as I often make: There may be virtually no oil in ANY of these regions, and peak may be HERE NOW. We simply don't know.

Or, we may hit a few regions that dwarf the old "North Sea". We simply cannot know. It is the complete blindness that presents the greatest danger.

Many here say "well, we shouldn't be betting our whole existance on the idea that these "miracle finds" will save us." That is EXACTLY CORRECT.

But, likewise, we would be foolish to bet our whole economic and cultural future on the idea that no more oil will be found, and we are facing complete catastrophe NOW. (Heinberg/Kunstler theory, we'll call that)

Be very, very careful. Be ready to move in any direction as much as possible. Stay flexible. Do not marry your future to one agenda. It could be a very very expensive error. As I said in times past, been there, done that


Well from what I can tell we have a very good idea about how many big fields may exist. They are extraordinary and require extraordinary conditions. Even exploitable fields are rare.

The point is we know all of this and we have had most of the pieces of the puzzle since the 1970's. So sure their may be a lot of fields left to discover but even big fields will be very rare. At best if we are lucky we might find one more 10-20 GB field.

If their is any thing I've learned since studying oil finding and extracting oil is one of mans most advanced technologies. If we put the money into curing cancer that we put into oil we would have beaten it long ago. If fact its not a stretch to consider that we could have traveled to mars for sure and even to other stars with the investment in money materials and intellect that we have put into oil. The only reason I'm confident that we are almost out of oil is because our ability to find and extract oil is our most advanced technology period.

Memmel: I think Roger just likes to BS. By the way, your water cut post was probably the most interesting one I've read since reading an ELM post by WT a couple of years ago. I don't know if what you are saying is accurate but it definitely begs more detail-maybe you could do a long headline posting on it sometime.



Laid out the basics behind the theory. I just used a super simple concept of a bottle of oil and vinegar. Treating the world oil supply as a big bottle of salad dressing will probably not go over well as a key post :)

What we really need is a hydrologist to take a hard look at this. Fractional Flow could probably work out the math that shows how fractional flow for wells then fields then regions sums to a Gaussian centered at 50/50. This is why I pretty confident that Hubbert probably used a similar method to constrain his oil production profiles.

If you think about it you can use this in conjunction with HL and pretty much nail the peak regardless of production.

I'd assume associated with what pluckunderdog wrote is a stylized fractional flow curve. The important point is I think deviations from the curve indicate higher depletion levels. Real fields are well past 50% urr when they hit 50% water in general. Its only the population of fields with zero water cut that pull the percentage back.

So bottom line is next time Fractional Flow posts I'm going to try and get him to take a look I'll also email him and pluck underdog right now.

In any case a 80% global water cut means no matter how you do the math that we are probably well past 50% URR I cannot see any other conclusion which means that we have seriously inflated reserve estimates and discovery estimates. In my opinion about 75% or so.

HL does not help since the source of the inflation effects it also which is today we can extract oil 50-75% faster than we could in the past. Pure HL cannot detect this technical advancement and sees it as a bigger reservoir. It treats a small field developed with a multi branched MRC wells the same as a large field developed with simple wells until the MRC one suddenly declines. You can see how including water cut on average can tease out the technical effect esp if you include dead fields since over time even as production increases water cut continues to increase which is the signal that we are over extracting.

Also this may explain something that bothered me for a while Hubbert waited till 1980 to make his prediction for world peak. I now suspect that he was waiting to see increasing global water cuts and probably a obvious peak in discovery before committing. Only a real hydrologist can figure this out :)

Memmel: Thanks for the summary. I obviously missed it the first time around- interesting that it doesn't get more airplay.

Nice post Roger. I agree, flexibility is key.

When you look at the time and money its taking to develop the Kashagan oil field, you must come to the conclusion that the age of easy oil is over.

Would that investment be made if there was a legitimate threat that the Empty Quarter contained another super giant? I can only speculate that the majors developing that field know that the oil, whenever it comes out of the ground, will be very valuable.

Developing this new Brazilian find doesn't sound like a cakewalk either.

Add to this the Drumbeat article about Canada warning the U.S. to expect less NG and oil than previously forecasted.

Roger, we don't know, and will really never know until its in the rear view mirror. I can play connect the dots and watch what is happening to draw some conclusions. And its really becoming obvious. Watch the money; you really don't need to listen to the words.

RC - I'v been following your posts for quite some time.

I read your evolution and became concerned that you might throw in your cards and open a Hummmmmmmvee dealership.

I now realize you are the most doomerish of us all.

P.S. the other day your post mirrored my own progresssion through the last 5 - 10 years too close for comfort.


Very interesting article Luis, thanks.

One thing that might throw a monkey wrench in the works here is the salt. The salt, 2000 meters deep, is one and one quarter mile depth of salt. Does that salt flow? We know that salt does flow. Such a salt deposit in East Texas, in historical times, flowed upward and formed salt domes. The salt in the flat deposites would have flowed toward the domes. But of course that salt was much deeper, about 20,000 feet.

But a salt deposit of 1.25 miles thick, would have a much different temperature at the top than at the bottom. This could cause very slow convection flows. Worse yet, the salt appears to be on an incline. This would mean that the salt, being much lighter than the overlying rock, might be flowing up the incline, with the the salt toward the top getting deeper while the lower salt layer gets shallower.

Of course any massive shift would take place over geological time and one would think it would have little, if any effect. But a flow of only a centimeter a year could prove disasterous. After only four or five years the well bore could be broken and salt could intrude into the bore and cut off the flow of oil.

Just a thought and I wonder if the petroleum engineers have investigated it?

Note, the ice in the Antarctic always flows, but it flows at different rates, depending on the location and depth. Might very warm salt, under great pressure, behave in a similar manner?

...an area in the West Antarctic ice sheet where 150 years ago the ice suddenly stopped flowing in one area in the lower part of the stream. This so-called "sticky spot," currently flowing at a rate of 2 meters per year (about 6 feet), greatly differs from its neighboring streams, flowing at approximately 400 meters (1,300 feet) per year.

And for this very obvious reason, there can never be an oil well drilled through the Antarctic ice.

Ron Patterson

Thank you for your comment Ron, capital information. Unfortunately I can't answer any of your questions, we'll just have to wait for the commercial exploration program to start to know about this.

From the maps I've seen and the articles I've read I got the idea that this is indeed an inclined layer (going down 1000 meters in something like 200 Km) already beyond the continental shelf. But my sketch is merely illustrative. There are also explicit references to an important temperature gradient between the reservoir and the ocean's floor. So the flows you reference might well take place.

If you haven't done so, please check the comments by Mudlogger above, in it he refers to the use of concrete to stabilize the wells drilled through the salt.

Salt does flow. It undergoes plastic deformation.

Over geological time, this salt can deform with such magnitude that domes or salt diapers form with heights and widths in hundreds of metres.

If you drill through it, removing volume, then the drill fluid can hold it back for a while, but it does start to squeeze back. This can happen in days.

So as soon as drilled you case it off with a string of casing. This stops the squeezing and is strong enough to halt squeezing for years, decades even.

The southern North Sea has massive amounts of Zechstein salts interlayered with Anhydrites, Dolomites and clays.

These salts (mostly Halite) are buried at depths of 2000m + and can represent a column of 2000m+ of salts. In places, almost all 6 of the Zechstein Cycles can be mapped. Squeezing can and does occur. Hence the need for casing them off quickly.

As an aside, just imagine the global warming required to generate these amounts of salts precipitating out of solution in the Permo-Trias... Serious amounts of warming...

They can be problematic on occassion, but not sufficient to stop drilling and producing from the Gas Fields of the Southern North Sea. Indeed, the salts existence is one of the reasons that the gas is trapped.

The costly specialist rigs, equipment and skills are required for the water depths in this case.(IMO)