A belated response to CGES

While I was gone Dave kindly replied to Dr Drollas' comments to my post regarding Depletion and the CGES. Since today was the day that Chevron announced the Jack prospect test result, it might be considered that this speaks more to his argument than mine. The well showed that from about 40% of the pay zone they were flowing 6,000 bd, and a second well to further define and appraise the field will be drilled next year.

Further within the considerable comment that has been provided on a number of stations was the comment that this is the "final frontier" for oil exploration. Actually it probably isn't. There are still some places further North that have not yet been fully explored, but it is getting very close to the limit of where we can afford to economically look. We are, by the geological definition of where oil is likely to be found, starting to run out of places to look for these large fields.

Today's find was a record in a number of ways
More than a half a dozen world records for test equipment pressure, depth, and duration in deepwater were set during the Jack well test. For example, the perforating guns were fired at world record depths and pressures. Additionally, the test tree and other drill stem test tools set world records, helping Chevron and co-owners conduct the deepest extended drill stem test in deepwater Gulf of Mexico history.

The oil that was found was thus expensive to find, and will also be expensive to produce. It is also far enough out into the Gulf that the platforms that will produce it will run into the same risks that hit Thunder Horse and the Mars platforms, and which, should more hurricanes hit the area, may make it more difficult to find insurance.

"The harsh reality is that there's just not as much insurance available this year as there was last year," said Al Reese, chief financial officer at ATP Oil & Gas, based in Houston. "There are some companies that only got limited coverage or were unable to obtain coverage at all this year. It's very, very scary."
The problems of getting insurance for work in the GOMEX were discussed last October, again in March and are unlikely to have eased since then. Remember that over a hundred rigs were lost to hurricanes last year and that more damage in the future is going to make the problem of getting insurance only worse.

Deep water fields (and this I heard today referred to as very deep water) have been expected to provide a blip to world production as it was found, but the number of places to look are limited, depending as success does, on suitable geology. This is now starting to be produced around the world, including those fields listed offshore Brazil, and various countries of Africa.

The advent of Peak Oil does not say that discoveries will stop, nor that the world does not have significant amounts of oil left, both to find and produce. Rather it marks the point where production reaches a maximum, which may be only indirectly related to the remaining size of the reserve base. (From the point of view that it is more directly related to the mechanics of production). And production from very deep water may be slowed for a variety of reasons. And interestingly, since the field will not be more fully defined until more wells have been sunk and appraised, will it be entered into the books as a 3 or a 15 billion barrel field? It has, after all, not been that long since there was a large find reported down Mexico way.

Which brings me back to the discussion on depletion and reserves that I started with. And rather than reiterate again in detail what has been said, let me try and simply explain my comment about "overbounding simplification."

Reserve additions each year come about either from the finding of new fields or by re-assessing the amount of oil that exists/can be recovered from existing fields. Depletion of reserves occurs when the amount added is less than the amount that has been produced. That is the simplicity of the CGES argument. However, by going back to 1954 and comparing overall numbers this hides within that summation any trends in the data that have developed over this time interval.

Further, and I tried to illustrate this by reference to oil fields in KSA, the estimated reserve growth can be achieved not by finding new fields, nor by finding that the field is bigger than before, but from an assumption that more oil can be extracted from the same overall Original Oil In Place. No more oil has been found in this case, it is merely assumed that a greater percentage can be recovered and thus the reserves grow. Well they sometimes can, but as Shell learned at Yibal sometimes they can't, and the reserve estimates are overstated. That was the concern - I expressed it with the note that recovery factors for the KSA fields had been increased, except for the Abqaiq field, the one closest to being fully extracted, where the recovery factor was lowered.

Because CGES just built in changes in reserves without indicating the potentially questionable nature of some of the ways in which reserve values have been added, they glossed over (oversimplified) the situation in a way that left, to my eye, a somewhat rosier picture of the future than seems justified.

OK, so you are unlucky enough to get me as an early responder.

Remember that over a hundred rigs were lost to hurricanes last year and that more damage in the future is going to make the problem of getting insurance only worse.

With all due respect.

I think it was called Ernesto. I knew it would amount to nothing. Especially since 6 or 7 days out, the graphics posted here showed it making a direct hit on New Orleans.

I'm not going to get into a whole, "just because the apocalypse didn't happen last time, it will this time argument." Or the 50%/100% example that was layed out here yesterday.

I'll just leave it at - I was right.

Insurance is a hedge. Who did the article on Futures yesterday? With excellent points raised by Halfin.

Let's get out of the game of "seeing" the future.

Again, with all due respect. I'll go and read the rest now. Thanks for your constant work.

Oil CEO said

"Let's get out of the game of "seeing" the future."


Look, we all know the direction we have to go.  Consumption has to come down, peak yesterday or peak in 20 years.

Diversification of energy supply has to go up, peak yesterday or peak in 20 years.

Greenhouse gas is a critical issue to at least stabilize, peak yesterday or peak in 20 years.

Light sweet crude oil and natural gas are natural wonders, peak yesterday or peak in 20 years.

The economic burden of exporting billions, trillions, is bleeding our nation to death, peak yesterday, or peak in 20 years.

The strategic weakness created by our massive dependence on a smaller and smaller part of the world is leaving us vulnerable in a way we have never been, peak yesterday, or peak in 20 years.

The level of waste is an atrocity, peak yesterday, or peak in 20 years.

Our problem is this:  Everytime we make a major new find, does the public take the position that "hey, we have a bit of breathing room, it gives us a small bit of extra time to make the changes needed, and reduce fuel consumption first, by say 5%, then 10%, then 20%....the finds are proving that we still have a fair amount of oil left to assist in these changes if we begin to do so now...we can bring down consumption while production holds steady....and then, at whatever point begins to drop, we will have technology already tested, and be able to back down on consumption as we diversify."

Now, do you hear anybody out in the press talking that way?  No, what they say is, "oh boy, the price will drop back and we will be able to have a nice SUV  for a few more years", or "you know, I would like to take one last fling, I have never owned a speedboat that really gets your blood going, and, helll, I'm getting older, I deserve to live a little....or one of them new Bimmer 500 horsepower sedens, have you seen that, performs like a Porsche but as comfortable as luxury car!  And you know the rich aren't conservin' shiit, or they wouldn't be building them...."

If we simply see each new find as an excuse not to change, not to use the reprieve, then timing the future, timing the peak, and finding more oil don't matter, the outcome will be exactly the same.

All that will matter is when the right chamber of the gun in Russian Roulette comes before the barrel....we may get lucky, and make it to the old folks home, and find it unheated and unlit, with no medical machinery, or it may come next winter, with a sudden shock of fuel oil too expensive for any but the most wealthy to afford....who can guess?  But, it don't matter, we will all know what needed to be done....but by then, we will have used our reprieves up....the 10% or 20% a few years behind us could have gotten us by, but it by then, whether it is 2007, 2010 or 2030 won't be of any use.  We actually knew it a third of century ago, but what happened.  The North Sea, Saudi Arabia, offshore oil, Alaska....we found bought and used one more reprieve, and had the biggest party by the biggest young population in history.

The exact date does not matter to the nation, without major change, the outcome remains the same.  It does matter to the individual.  Can he/she buy one more party, one more reprieve?  We count our years...damm posterity, can we find enough in small pots or big ones, to get us to the grave?
This is why we play the  " game of "seeing" the future."  We count our years against the years to "peak" that will decide whether we can live the good life and avoid change, and die in peace.

A generation that has no purpose except to hang on by it's fingernails, and bleed the world dry just as we die, this our noble version of success.  

Roger Conner  known to you as ThatsItImout

Sometimes you almost bring tears to my eyes.

Peak Yesterday or in 20 years.

Hello, people? Hellooo?

Hello ThatItImOut,

Excellent essay! Jay Hanson came to the same conclusion.  Whether Peakoil Yesterday, or in Twenty Years, he said the mass majority and especially the majority of our leaders will never change; it is in our Genes to seek MPP:
"The Maximum Power Principle states that all open systems (Bernard cells, ecosystems, people, societies, etc.) evolve to degrade as much energy as possible while allowing for the continued existence of the larger systems they are part of."

"All species expand as much as resources allow and predators, parasites, and physical conditions permit. When a species is introduced into a new habitat with abundant resources that accumulated before its arrival, the population expands rapidly until all the resources are used up. In wine making, for example, a population of yeast cells in freshly-pressed grape juice grows exponentially until nutrients are exhausted -- or waste products become toxic."
 -- David Price; http://dieoff.com/page137.htm

This is commonly seen in the pursuit of individual gain at the expense of the larger community. When individuals maximize gain, populations experience overshoot and die off.
IMO, the best we can hope to do is to somehow optimize our decline for the squeeze thru the Bottleneck.  I realize it is not much to go on--but remember, no other species ever had the mental capacity and understanding to even try.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Good Morning Totoneila,

Re "Maximum Power Principle"
You might enjoy reading Into The Cool by Schneider and Sagan. It takes you through the second law of thermodynamics with wonderful detail right into nonequilibrium metastable thermodynamic systems of which humans are an example. The conclusion matches yours.

You have just described the 800# gorilla in the room. Every MSM article about PO, and GW and all other stories on resource depletion for that matter, carry this single-generation focus without exception. Looking out for number one trumps posterity every time - it is natural & inevitable for the vast majority of individuals.
Every MSM article about PO, and GW and all other stories on resource depletion for that matter, carry this single-generation focus without exception. Looking out for number one trumps posterity every time - it is natural & inevitable for the vast majority of individuals

If this would change, we would have a fighting chance at doing the right thing.  Why is it that posterity as you say, or the desire to leave an admired, lasting legacy is no longer a value that seems to be held by many, but importantly, is also no longer held by those with money and power ?  

You really only need look at the way our most lasting creations such as buildings have changed since the late 19th century.  

Re: Look, we all know the direction we have to go. Consumption has to come down, peak yesterday or peak in 20 years

Yes, WE do. I am not a seer and nobody I respect is one either. But some folks like Yergin or Lynch have a Chrystal Ball as they project the economic & technological happiness of the past onto the future.

You're writing a lot of stuff lately, Roger. What do you suggest we do about them? -- try to keep it pithy  

Pithy?  Does that sound like me? :-)

But, I will try....
Everyone here keeps saying things smiliar to, " when have you ever heard of people giving wealth/power/lifestyle/consumption however you want to say it, voluntarily, without crisis or without being forced.

That is why my argument, although it is not all that popular here, is that you have to trick um'.  The first wave of consumption reductions have to be what the designers call "transparent", meaning that they are as invisible as a clean sheet of glass, in other words, the reducttion in consumption is built in in such a way as to be invisible, and in fact the product is actually superior in othr areas to older, dirtier designs, and in fact, hip or in style.

What have I just described?  Herein lies the secret of the Toyota Prius Hybrid for example.  All the reviewers say it performs as well as a gasoline car, it is smooth and quite, maybe even smoother and quiter at lower speeds than a gasoline car, and you have to go to the filling station less frequently, thus increasing the convenience factor  (what a thought, convenience saving fuel instead of costing it!)  Some of the newer hybrid sedans are seen by some road testers as superior in areas other than fuel mileage to their gasoline sister models  (the Camry is a VERY good car, but as a hybrid, even in it's earliest generation, it may already be as good or better than it's companion gasoline model.  At what point might it pay to just slowly phase out the gas only hybrid, as the batteries get even better. The upcoming generation of plug hybrids may be so quite and so convenient as to make people wonder why they ever tolerated gasoline only cars.

What other areas show possibilities of similiar advantage?  AlanfromBigeasy often talks about electric rail for moving goods.  That is a great case in point.  The noise level goes down, the smoke level goes down, think how much nicer the sound and air would be in areas around railroad tracks with electric rail!
First for moving goods, and then advancing, as fuel prices advanced, to commuter and long haul rail.  All the advantages, cleaner, quieter, and more convenient.  There is the capital costs, but then, after that, it's the ultimate "hip" and stylish answer.

Geothermal or ground coupled heat pumps.  I know of know one who does not rave about them once they actually own them, and not just on the basis of fuel economy, but on the basis of clean, convenient climate control.  Winter /summer climate in one unit, no smoke, no fear of natural gas or propane fires and explosions, gas leaks killing the whole family in their sleep...poetic beauty as your household climate control lives it's whole existance in a 56 degree mild spring environment.  It can be upsized to office buildings, shopping malls and Walmarts, the ultimate clean and conveneint alternative.

The last I will talk about now is distributed generation.  This is just too hip....a small CHP unit in the basement or garage, that provides electric power, heat, hot water and cooling....all from one incoming natural gas line or propane tank.  This may sound strange given that I just endorsed heat pumps, but they can work in tandem, and there are places where heat pumps will not work as well, in particular if your goal is being lit up when everyone else is down in a thundertorm, windstorm, blizzard or blackout, the ultimate one upping the Jones!  The efficiency of distributed power can be fantastic, can make America more secure from terroists attack and more able to withstand weather events or fuel cutoffs.  Photovoltaic solar can be mixed in, (how's that for status?), and Wind can be added to the grid where it is available.  Pumped hydro storage can smooth out the day night peaks/valleys, and rescue almost a whole "second grid" worth of power from the off peak hours.

T avoid not being "un-pithy", I will stop there.  Notice I have not used such examples as tar sands, ethanol, fusion nuclear, hydrogen fuel cells, nor a sizable number of other technologies, simply because these have not proven themselves.  The ideas I listed exist now, can be implemented now, and in conjunction with the "transparent conservation" of insulation, solar oriented passive houses, North side protection of the wall, etc, could cut America's fuel consumption WHILE MAKING AMERICANS MORE SPOILED AND COMFORTABLE.  Among the most edgy things I would recommend are the plug hybrids, and a line of hydraulic hybrid garbage trucks, school buses, and delivery trucks which would get 50% better fuel efficiency than conventional drive.

One more thing: Diversity of fuel supply.  I actually read the other day that if the weather stayed unusually warm, the nat gas companies may actually have to "flare" some off due to no where to store it!!!!

In the age we are in, this is so barbaric so as to transcend reality.  Does that really still go on.  With no summer market for propane, methane or butane it actually could.  We must, MUST examine dividing our fuel consumption up between LPG, natural gas, gasoline, Diesel, and grid provided power, plust the bio fuels that will be there whether we think they are a good idea or not.
Diversity, advanced design, "transparent" and "stylish" reductions in fuel that spoil us more...the amount of consumption reduction would be astounding, and the creative, artistic landscape of America would be an inspiration to our youth....and this is only the front edge.

Opps, I may have passed "pithy" a few lines ago!  :-)

Thank you, Roger Conner known to you as ThatsItImout

Roger.  Thanks for saying so well what I've been thinking. The MSM is touting the "good news" that gas prices have come down. I think their good news is bad news.  It just goes to show we cannot rely on the market. We need to set up the right signals through taxation and stick to a long term program to get off oil and fossil fuels in general. The "bad news" is that we have learned nothing.

Although Bush says we are addicted to oil; I'm sure he and the Republicans are pleased that oil and gas prices have gone down and we have found yet another "find" that will save us all --- at least until the next election. The alarm is only sounded when oil and gas prices are up.

the outcome will be exactly the same

Not quite. The longer it takes to get to the peak, the worse it will be - more people, less resources, steeper drop much further down.

In a cynical kind of way, it would be a good thing for humankind if the crisis arrived tomorrow.

For each individual, it would be a catastrophe, whether it arrived sooner or later, of course.

Good night from Old Europe,


When was the last time collective humanity engaged in a significant, undesired lifestyle reduction in anticipation of something that may happen "who knows - maybe 10, 20, 30 yrs or so out there?"

It is the reality of human nature that requires us to recognize a problem as urgent and imminent in order to motivate change. I think there is enough evidence out there to paint a very urgent picture (in contrast to CERA, etc) which I guess is where we differ. No decision is made with absolute certainty when you enter into it
(marriage, career, house, etc) - you look at the data, make the best assessment you can, and take action.

Well you could also call it Florence, or whoever, the person, however, that you have to convince is not the observer who hasn't seen a hurricane in the GOMEX so far this year, but the insurance writer who is going to have to cover the costs when one does arrive.
In the meantime, they are making their money back. They are covered by FEMA and the TPTB anyway. Look at the airlines. The insurance industry is like any other. It wines and dines. Then it whines. Then the government bails them out. Remember Enron. Before its demise, it was starting to make a name for itself trading in weather. I hesitate to use the name as an example, however it had been done before, and it is being done now.

I officially proclaim Hurricane Season over in GOMEX. Cheers.

I listening to Coast to Coast Am and the fellow who wrote "Black Gold Stranglehold" is going to tell us all about it (the discovery, that is).

So I guess he'll say its all abiotic-  just wish he'd look at the geology on the paper that Dave Cohen posted the link to earlier.  

Too bad that George Noory has become an adherent to the Abiotic theory- maybe he could get his 20 million or so listeners to donate a dollar each for a test well and get his remote viewing people to "locate" the oil prospects.  Hell, the oil problem would solved instantly!

I think George knows oil is not abiotic.  He asked Corsi some of the dumbest questions possible when Corsi was first on the show such as, "is it possible the good Lord would know we would need oil someday and therefore put all the oil we could ever want in the ground?" Corsi and his lackey were like "yeah definitely!" I was like, "I can't freakin believe this. Gee whiz why didn't God just have refined jet fuel flow like from the earth?!"

George is not an idiot, so I have to believe he was asking these questions on purpose.

I think something is up as Corsi and his lackey flew out to the LA studio for that first show. That is extremely unusual as almost all C2Cradio interviews are done via phone.

Jerome Corsi is about to appear on Coast to Coast and will flog this fall all it's worth to prove "it's abiotic oil!!!"

I'm debating whether to listen or not. The guy gets on my nerves.

I get a kick out of listening to George but I think he's sold on Abiotic  there is a couple of guests that he's had on that line.  Of course I was listening the night you were on but I think that was with Art Bell.

I say to them prove it.  Get the listeners to chip in and get the remote viewers find the spot.  Go for it.  Its just as credible as some of the oil projects being sold to investors now.  Who needs 3 D Seismic when you can remote view.  Back in the old days promoters used dowsers.  This Corsi guy sounds like could use some dowsers to help him out.

I always get to a point in your pieces when I am totally psyched that I have found this place where at least one person writes about technical oil-field issues. And I have this sense  of serenity that overcomes me. I can read about oil for the rest of the night. And then it ends. You do this to me every time. You are killing me. You need an editor. Start writing for the New Yorker. Love, one of your biggest fans.
Anybody want to put on their tinfoil hat for a moment?

This "discovery" is so deep in the water I'm suspicious given what a big deal is being made out of it. I'm not saying it's not there. But I wonder if Dick Cheney and our NSA overlords browsing these forums have realized people are catching on and thus instructed their minions in the MSM to flog this sucker to the peasants for all it's worth.

I have no doubt that they have a discovery.  The scale of the challenge is what is being underplayed.  Sorry Matt, but I dont share the conspiracy theories.  I posted a link earlier and will repeat it here:


Note Table 1 where water depth is listed at 8K and well depth listed at 18 to 28k.  This was printed in 2004 and sounds like the parameters of this discovery.

One thing is for sure,  these companies will need plenty of cash to take this one on.  After some years of core evaluation and drill stem testing looks like they are going to stick their neck out.

I have been amazed when I first heard about the newer deepwater plays in the early 90's that they have been so successful with their safety record.  I was invited several times to go there but I swore offshore work off 20 years ago.  

One of the challenges that is detailed in the Harts article is round trip time.  At 28,000 feet it takes a long time to get the pipe out of the hole and back in.  There are limits as to how fast they can trip- particularly in geopressured environments and this new discovery certainly is.   Trying to speed up this process can cause what is known as swabbing the well in.  So they will have to be patient and take their time.  I would hate for the safety record to be broken.

The subsea well heads are operating in an environment where pressures are in the range of 10,000 psi internal and 3,500 psi external.  Quite a feat.

'One thing is for sure,  these companies will need plenty of cash to take this one on.'

If they pull it off though, by 2013 the'll be getting $145/b so will be awash with cash.

I was sort of being fascietious (sp?) regarding a conspiracy here. (Not that conspiracies don't take place in other contexts.) Point is, I think this "discovery" is going to be played up and the difficulties played down to the extreme.
Just remember your vowels, AEIOU - fAcEtIOUs.

Maybe ABC will do a miniseries about this find:
"The Path to Cornucopia"

Not to mention how we must be with our resources if the species is to survive: AbstEmIOUs.
Matt I agree.  I dont know why this has the press that it has gotten other than to cheer on the home team and let those vultures circling know that this country may have some options left.

I won't give an emotional rant about how this should be used as a bridging step to get us where we need to go. (Others on the site are much better at this than I).   That is precisely how this discovery, along with others that may be found in the near future, should be seen.  

I am not a new adherent to what we now call peak oil. Colin Cambell merely  crystallized it for me in 1998 with his landmark article.  I have worked in a broad range of energy industries including several attempts in the solar field going on 25 years now.  I have had some severe defeats during this time frame, along with occaisonal minor victories.   Most of the reasons why we have success and failure have nothing to do with technology.  Technology has been a tremendous human force and has in fact improved our standard of living.  But we are still human beings and subject to our mortal flaws.

This discovery will test techology and humans to an extent that only has been hinted at in our deepwater progress so far.   There will be human beings on those rigs that will die to produce that oil.  That is a sad fact in the oil business- no matter how safe you try to make it.  It has always been that way.

So along with the cheering, maybe a few prayers are needed.

frontierenergy -

I have a very basic understanding of oil well drilling technology (thanks largely to some of the tutorials presented here at TOD), but I find it hard to fathom (pun not intended) how one can drill a well through some 7,000 ft of water followed by over 20,000 ft of earth's crust.

Even if it's large, thick-walled pipe, a length of pipe over 5 miles long must have the torsional  rigidity of an overcooked strand of spaghetti. Even with liberal use of drilling muds, etc, at that extreme length the frictional forces acting on the pipe must be enormous, particularly if you start getting into directional drilling.

 My engineer's intuition tell me that trying to insert something that deep and that long would be about as successful as trying to push a rope uphill. Yet, obviously, it is being done. Perhaps you could enlighten me on how it is possible to get a pipe in and out of a hole that long. What about casing?  That must be pretty difficult too.  

Good question - it shows that you are thinking clearly about the issues.

A drillstring might be over twenty thousand feet long, constructed mainly of 30-foot lengths ("joints") of drillpipe, screwed together, ID maybe 4.5 inches, 1 inch wall thickness, plain carbon steel. (Diameters are guessed - I'm not a driller). A structural member of this length and slenderness has basically zero buckling stability (compressive or torsional) under the forces associated with the drilling process.

The weight of the mud-filled drillstring in the hole is balanced by three forces:

  • Hook load (at the top of the string)
  • Buoyancy (mud in the hole)
  • Weight on bit (WOB)

You will often need tens of thousands (Hundreds? Dunno) of pounds WOB. So the top of the drillstring is in tension, the bottom in compression. At some point there is zero axial force - this is called the "neutral point". The driller will adjust hook load to get the desired WOB.

So the bottom of the drillstring is in compression. Why doesn't it buckle? The answer is that everything below the neutral point is built from much thicker i.e. buckle-resistant pipe (remember that buckle resistance is proportional to radius to the fourth power). These joints are called "drill collars" - despite their name they come in the same joint lengths (thirty feet) as regular drillpipe, with the same ID, but the OD is increased by a factor of 2 or so - obviously you leave enough clearance for mud and cuttings to circulate.

Compare drillpipe and drill collars here >>> http://www.glossary.oilfield.slb.com/DisplayImage.cfm?ID=318

Everything in the drillstring below the plain drillpipe (bit, drill collars and other strange and wonderful gadgets) is referred to as the Bottom Hole Assembly (BHA). Diagram (very much not to scale) here >>> http://www.glossary.oilfield.slb.com/Display.cfm?Term=bottomhole%20assembly

(Can't link the pics directly I'm afraid).

The answer re: casing is that it has a much bigger ID, so less prone to buckling, and you can run the casing with a bullet nose (with a mud vent at the bottom) to get it past irregularities in the open hole. The nose might even have a couple of rows of cutters so you can try to ream past obstructions if you are feeling lucky. You're just opening the hole slightly, not drilling ahead, so you don't need much weight to do this. The nose will be made of epoxy or concrete so once the casing is set and cemented you can just drill it out.

Next Question?


ID maybe 4.5 inches, 1 inch wall thickness


OD maybe 4.5 inches, 1 inch wall thickness

I and O are right next to each other on the keyboard...

As long as OD > ID, you're good.  That keeps the hole on the inside.  :)
Thanks, frontierenergy and plucky underdog -

That was very informative and helpful in giving me a better understanding of deep well drilling.

By describing the drill string as more of a weighted plumb bob, you've answered my question about torsional rigidity, etc. I guess the answer is that because the lower portion of the drill string is in tension, it doesn't need much torsional rigidity.

Anyway, I find it thoroughly amazing how the oil industry has perfected these advanced drilling techniques. It looks like a nice combination of art and science.

Plucky underdog has some good comments from a purely engineering standpoint.  Maybe I can comment from a field perspective.  As plucky underdog noted you have drill pipe in approximate 30 ft "joints".  3 of these 30 ft joints made a "stand".  Most deepwater rigs use a top drive powered by hydraulics to rotate the string from the derrick as opposed to older rigs that rotated at the drill floor.  I could calculate a total hook load on a 28000 foot string of pipe but it is late and I dont have time tonight.  I would imagine that it would be in the neighborhood of 250,000 pounds.  Complicating such a calculation would be whether the string is tapered, say 5 inch drill pipe, with 4.5 and then 3.5 inch at the bottom.  The derrick is merely suspending this weight and the driller is lowering this weight to what the bit will optimally drill at.  Sometimes this is as low as 5000 of the above list pounds and sometimes this is as much 75,000  pounds.   The "gumbo" at the shallow depths will jet drill with almost no weight.

The pipe indeed buckles if too much weight is applied but more often than not the hole will deviate based on the path of least resistance of the rocks being drilled.  In other words if the driller dumps weight the bit may follow the dip of the formation and you will miss the target.  In the case of horizontal drilling the pipe will bend from 0 degrees to  90 degrees within a few hundred feet of radius.  In short radius re-entry wells the pipe will bend from 0 to 90 degrees in little over a hundred feet.  So yes the pipe is  quite flexible.

There is the Bottom Hole Assembly as Plucky Underdog noted that consists of the bit (many different types depending on formation), a downhole mud motor is pretty much standard now even on straight holes, Non magnetic drill collars in which are the various MWD sondes for real time drilling information, and directional sensors.  Following this is the appropriate number of heavy weight collars that provide weight near the bottom of the string and then following that is the joints that are added as they are drilled down.   On a 28000 foot well there would be approximately 300 stands of pipe.   Why this is important is the tripping time required to  get this pipe in and out of the hole.  It can take up to  24 hours to make a round trip on a deep hole.  Even more if the well starts flowing and requires well control procedures.

The downhole mud motor is turning at say 60 rpm and the top drive is turning at 60 rpm so you have in this example a combined 120 effective rpm. You are surveying as you are drilling and can control the rates at which the bit builds it angle.  This is important in controlling your "buckling" concept.  The term is "dogleg"in the oil field and new rotary steerable mud motor  technology makes this much easier on deepwater holes.  Being able to limit the dogleg allows the pipe to be pulled easier and casing run smoother.  Dogleg is measured in degrees per hundred feet and can be controlled to less than 1 degree.

Regarding mud, that is a whole science unto itself  with things such as polymer beads being used to help with friction.  Of course the mud provides some pipe buoyancy and bit cooling effects it provides pressure control.   Say we have a geopressured zone at 28000 feet that has 15000 psi and we want to control it without blowing out.  We could weight our mud up to 11 pound per gallon giving us appoximatley 16000 psi hydrostatic pressure.  Of course this could be too much and fracture the formation and we'd lose circulation, we'd have to back off our weight and add Loss of Circulation Material (LCM) and have one hell of a time.

Oh well,  I dont know if this has helped or confused you even more.  I guess in a nutshell the drillstring concept is more like a pendulum or plumbob as opposed to  pushing a limp noodle.  The most significnat weight is at the bottom.

It's amazing that we can do stuff like this at all.  The complexity of what you described seems quite stunning.  
Give that man a gold star.


Tin foil hat or not (I only sleep in mine, nursey told me to).

I hope that is 15 billion barrels. Possibly the last and greatest endowment Mother Nature has thrown at the USA.

It wont change much in the long run, Hubbert is after all, still Hubbert, but Gaia has thrown you a little bit of rope. You can build a bridge, or you can hang yourselves with it.

It means you may have a little bit of time and with thought and planning, this little bit of extra time will allow you to avoid a complete train wreck.

It is up to you. Use it wisely, dont blow it all on SUVs and Exurban McMansions and business as usual.

You need to start a national debate on how to use this endowment (and any other future endowments that Gaia strews in your path), rather than hosing it all up against a wall.

"You can build a bridge, or you can hang yourselves with it."

Well said.  I heard Yergin talking about Jack on NPR this morning.  He's already working on erecting the gallows.

ps - Didn't realize until after I'd typed it the appropriateness of the phrase "Yergin talking about Jack" :-)

There's a much more likely explanation.  Congress is just about ready to reconsider the official U.S. position on offshore drilling.  The 25-year moratorium on OC Shelf drilling is about to expire, and at first glance Jack looks like an excellent reason to let it expire.

I work in public relations, and the first rule in PR is "deny the truth without actually lying".  The oil PR departments are falling over themselves this week to make Jack sound like proof positive that offshore drilling is the answer to all our problems.  If Congress buys it and decides not to extend the moratorium, the oil companies stand to make a lot of money with new wells in much more hospitable places than Jack.  It's a big deal to domestic oil bottom lines.

Seriously, I strongly doubt Jack would be getting this kind of hard spin if offshore drilling weren't such an immediate issue.

Whoops, made a mistake there.  The federal moratorium expires in 2012.  Congress is debating a law to end it early.
As I've said many times here as well as over on my own site: Eventually we will extract virtually all of the recoverable reserves of oil and natural gas, no matter where they are.  (OK, a field in the middle of Gettysburg or under the White House would be spared, but you get the idea.)

I think this is an inescapable conclusion once you accept the basics of mainstream peak oil thinking.  We're ridiculously dependent on oil, we're finding less and less of it year by year, and even an aggressive transition away from oil will still require us to consume a hell of a lot of it in the short and mid-term.  Therefore, if there's usable oil that can be extracted, we'll extract it.

The human elements of this equation--public acceptance of the environmental impacts, political support for drilling in previously off-limit areas, etc.--will make getting from point A to point B messy, but we will get there, simply because we'll have no choice.

I think that concerned environmentalists should shift their focus away from trying to stop all drilling in sensitive areas to making sure it's done in the safest and cleanest way reasonably possible.

Neither agreeing nor disagreeing.  Just pointing out that when it comes to PR, there's always an agenda at play.  It's not a conspiracy, by any means - any competent oil PR person would jump on the Jack discovery to push for expanded coastal drilling.  If not, they should be fired.  But there's definitely an incentive to magnify the Jack test all out of proportion right now.

I'm actually more surprised (and quite a bit dismayed) that more of the media hasn't even mentioned the relevance to the congressional debate coming in the next few weeks.  Instead,  they're just blindly parroting the "offshore oil bonanza" press releases and making the bobblehead rounds.  

Another news piece on the subject..

Sure, I'll sign up for that belief in a heartbeat.  Just as soon as I have proof.  If we're going to be scientists, there's no other sensible answer--we must go where the facts lead us.

Until there's proof, it's just another conspiracy theory.

Isn't this like finding $1 when you need $100?
I'm not sure. How do you "find" a dollar? I'm still trying to find my elbow.
I spent the weekend around some techie types, they all believe either (a) oil is abiotic, or (b) "We won't even need oil in 10 years" because "we'll have fusion or something". NOT oil techies as you can tell, but these are the techies who are designing some um... pretty techie stuff, aerospace and so on. Scary.
Jerome corsi is no geologist. He has made oil a religious issue. Some of his writings and books tell us all we need to know about his credibility. Why doesn't oil fill up the wells that are running dry in lower-48 and Alaska ? Why is Indonesia a non-exporting member of OPEC(Organization of Petroleum EXPORTING countries )Is it because they enjoy paying $70 a barrel for their imports of the black goo ?

I found a couple of good abiotic oil related links on the site theviewfromthepeak.net

I'll tell ya the news that counts.

It has been happening everyday.

That is that 84+- Million barrels were pumped today that will NEVER be pumped again.  

While we wonder about Cheney, GOM, Hurricanes, and every other topic related,  NOTHING is happening on the scale that needs to happen to make any difference when we hit the wall.

I found out about 6 years ago about peak oil, and since then Hummers are still being sold, millions and millions of gallons have been used in F16's, and Abrahms tanks.  
We had Cheney's energy task force in 2001 and we can see the concrete results of that.

Again, while we are debating,

84+- Million barrels were pumped today that will NEVER be pumped again.

Let's wait a little longer....

I see that it is clear, HO, that the response to Drollas was my own, not yours. I was not attempting to speak for you. I hope you understand that I could not just let him write that nonsense without TOD saying anything, since I knew you were out of town.

This Jack test well does indeed speak to my argument. Here, we have the entire reserves versus flows point of contention laid out for all to see. I see that the Cornucopians (Yergin, Lynch) are out in force today.

Reserves don't matter outside producing them. Yesterday, NPR had a guy who said that by the time this Lower Tertiary formation got into production -- if it ever does -- what we could get out of it would at best make up for Gulf of Mexico declines. That observation is correct.

Regarding the "Final Frontier", I see it is time to resurrect an old post I was working up on the Arctic.

Today we are going to be hearing a lot of nonsense. This is frustrating to me, to say the least.

From Oil Energy Intelligence, I've seen a lot of news reports with similiar caveats.

"Bold headlines claiming that a new discovery in the US Gulf of Mexico will increase US oil reserves by 50% are a combination of hype and over simplification that distorts some genuinely important news. The estimates by Chevron and Devon that the deepwater Lower Tertiary trend -- where their Jack find is located -- could produce 3 billion to 15 billion barrels of oil are highly significant because companies are starting to quantify the importance the various discoveries by several firms that have been made there since 2004. The oil is not only in frontier deepwater, it is also in reservoirs that were thought to be difficult but are actually easier flowing than expected. Technical challenges mean that this big new oil supply is still many years from initial production, and with declines elsewhere and rising demand, the truth is it won't begin to stem the heavy US dependence on imported oil. Tom Wallin in New York"

Yergin, who heads oil consultancy Cambridge Energy Research Associates, maintains that oil should again be plentiful somewhere between 2010 and 2015, thanks in large measure to new technology that permits recovery from previously inaccessible reserves.

Yup, out in full force.
This was part the story in the San Jose Merc News that greeted me this morning. There is a gaping chasm between what the masses are being told (thanks to MSM) and what TOD readers are being told.

I'll go with MSM because the wisdom of the mob is usually right on the mark </sarcasm>

Bountiful Harvest

Successful deep water oil finds in the Gulf of Mexico are sure to boost similar efforts off the shores of Africa and Brazil, challenging the popular view that the world may be running out of oil.
"You got it buddy: The Large Print Giveth, and the Small Print Taketh Away"

 Step Right Up - Tom Waits

Step right up, step right up, step right up,
Everyone's a winner, bargains galore
That's right, you too can be the proud owner
Of the quality goes in before the name goes on

One-tenth of a dollar, one-tenth of a dollar, we got service after the sale, You need perfume? we got perfume, how 'bout an engagement ring?

Something for the little lady, something for the little lady, Something for the little lady, hmm, Three for a dollar

We got a year-end clearance, we got a white sale
And a smoke-damaged furniture, you can drive it away today
Act now, act now, and receive as our gift, our gift to you
They come in all colors, one size fits all
No muss, no fuss, no spills, you're tired of kitchen drudgery

Everything must go, going out of business, going out of business Going out of business sale
Fifty percent off original retail price, skip the middle man, Don't settle for less.....

We got a year-end clearance, we got a white sale
We got smoke-damaged furniture, you can drive it away today
Act now, act now, and receive as our gift, our gift to you
They come in all colors, one size fits all....

Get away from me kid, ya bother me....

MSM:  Headlines today,  retractions in small print on page 7 in 3-6 months.

"Those are the Headlines, now for the rumors behind the News"
Firesign Theater.

John Carr

  I count myself as a moderate optomist, not a cornucopian. The whole problem is the 6 1/2 billion people on this planet wish to live a high energy use lifestyle, while a population of a billion or less industrialised humans screwed off the first 50% of the fossil fuel in less than 100 years, nearly ruining our climate at the same time. We have to change if modern civilizations wish to survive.
  I'm pretty suspicious of the Chevron-Texaco announcement. They are claiming a 300 square mile field in 6,000-10,000 foot water with very minimal appraisal drilling. Meanwhile, the technology to develop the field has barely been invented. The completion and production will have to use robotics because the environment is as hostile as another planet. The oil produced will be fantasticially expensive at best, and much will be unrecoverable because the economic's won't support secondary and tertiary production at those water depths. And, this announcement comes at a suspicious stage in the US election cycle, when the status quo looks very much to be an endangered species.
   So I don't plan to change directions based on this announcement. I'm going to keep on trying to find and produce low cost onshore oil while doing my utmost to conserve.
because the economic's won't support secondary and tertiary production at those water depths

Which economics? Oil at $75/barrel? What about $150? Or $300?

Perhaps energy economics. Then it doesn't matter what the price is.
Good point.EROEI matters most. This BS is really making my job of spreading peak oil awareness harder.Did anyone see Sharon Eppherson on CNBC saying that crude oil (october Contract) was down because Devon had discovered billion of barrels of oil? WHen the "experts" so freaking stupid how the hell can we convince the common people?
BTW,does anyone know cumalative oil discoveries in 2005?
About 9.8 billion BOE according to IHS Energy (includes natural gas)

So, if 2006 (sans Jack) is the same as 2005, and we then add the high-end estimate of Jack and its surroundings (15B) to the 2006 total, we still get a number significantly below 2006 consumption.
Great. I guess this oil will be available for the October contract.  
  Secondary production is putting the well on pump, while tertiary is represurization and production using such substances as CO2 and LPG to thin the oil and push it in to the well bore. I have never seen a pump jack used underwater,although ther are some on very shallow wells like at Goose Creek and Lake Washington, and the fantastic cost of drilling holes to  inject LPG or CO2 makes the process uneconomic on all offshore reservoirs that I am familiar with, although quite possibly somebody is trying to make these processes work. I know that some companies are reinjecting gas, so possibly they could work, but certainly not inexpensively.
   As far as dollar price of oil to make these processes economic, I have no idea and neither does anyone else. The enginering hasn't been done. Other considerations might change the economics besides just price. If the US invades Iran, will the other Moslem countries shut off the spigot? How can we fuel our military? Is "security" more important than cost? I bet our government would argue that it is.
Some folk refer to pumping as a secondary process, but others classify it as Artificial Lift. Most reservoir engineers use "secondary recovery" to refer to processes that add reservoir energy (increase or maintain pressure, or slow pressure decline) without modifying pore-scale physics. This means water injection, or lean gas injection at moderate pressures (lean gas = mostly methane). "Tertiary" or "Enhanced" oil recovery (EOR) means miscible (LPG or CO2 as you mentioned) or surfactants or rheology modifiers like polymers, all of them normally piggy-backed on a pre-existing secondary process.

The wells you use for LPG or CO2 injection (normally alternating with water) are no different from the ones you would use for secondary water or gas injection, plus or minus a bit of metallurgy (which you might need anyway). Lots of folk on TOD refer to Cantarell nitrogen injection as EOR (I'd call it secondary recovery myself), and that's emphatically offshore. So is the Miller field in the North Sea (miscible gas injection) and Magnus (ditto). But you are correct to state that offshore EOR is vanishingly rare.

The real blocker in the case of Jack is the water depth - it will almost certainly be developed from a floating or semi-buoyant structure, so topsides weight and bulk will be at a premium, which will probably rule out the installation of the specialized process and compression plant you would need for miscible EOR. If it was 15 billion barrels in one field, the economies of scale might persuade them to find a way. But it isn't, so they won't.

Hello Plucky Underdog,

Thxs for this info.  Some other TODer thankfully posted a graphic showing how this new frontier area is likely to be lashed with hurricanes at max intensity, and furthermore, regularly whiplashed with spun-off eddies from the GoM Loop Current, which I understand can be very powerful against 7,000 ft of vertical drillpipe.  Considering the very long 'round trip' drilling time: how quickly can these brave workers safely shut down operations and still get to shore without causing an environmental catastrophe?  Please forgive my ignorance on these matters.

For example:  a drill ship still has to sail away from a Cat 3-5 hurricane, do they just unhook the very top 150 ft of drillpipe and move to safety-- or do they have to first pull the 7,000 ft of pipe exposed to the sea? or ALL 28,000 ft?

I am guessing a moored floating platform can be shutdown quicker by yanking the top 500 ft of pipe and safely tieing off the remaining 6500 ft.  Please correct if I am wrong, but basically I am concerned about info on worker and environmental safety concerns in this future frontier area.  Could these problems be so great that the Ins. Cos kill the deal unless deepwater robotics is the plan?  Thxs for any response from you or other expert on these matters.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Interesting question. I really don't know what happens if you're in the middle of managing a drilling kick when a hurricane comes along. And of course everything is more complex at those water and well depths.

Maybe someone with offshore experience in the GoM could comment?

But it isn't as if this is qualitatively new. The difficulties of operating at 30000' are slightly greater than the difficulties of operating at 29000', which in turn is slightly worse than 28000' ( ... several lines omitted ... ), which is slightly worse than lying under the bed in Kansas, clinging onto the floor. The hardware just gets progressively bigger and more expensive. The Wright Flyer eventually became the F35. Clearly BP were able to make a safety case to the USCG and MMS for Thunder Horse. I would characterize this stuff as Victorian Engineering - large and simple. Even the most modern offshore platforms are essentially steel plate and fresh air.

  Plucky Underdog, I stand corrected. My thought is that the real return on investment in water that deep is very likely to be marginal at even $100/bbl, and that there is unlikely to be tertiary recovery. Even pressure maintainence will take a $100,000,000 plus well.
  Thanks for the great explanation of drilling mechanics in deep water ! If you could just get the same principles to work on Erectile Disfunction just think how rich you would
  But as I have noted before, I'm a Landman, not an Engineer or Geologist. I'm sure glad to hang out on the oil drrum because I get great education and different points of view. Thanks again!
while a population of a billion or less industrialised humans screwed off the first 50% of the fossil fuel in less than 100 years

probably more like 3-4 hundred million people over the last century account for 95% of the oil used.

Enviroatty, its probably even less that that. The population of the world was only about 2 billion when I was born in 1951. But I was being gentle with the figures. My point is that no matter what we need to conserve, the old American virtue of frugality. And get a vasectomy or tubal ligation. Ther are just too many people for the planet.
  And, I had a vasectomy after 1 child because of my belief.
I had a vasectomy

Got mine in January.  Not one of my more pleasant days.

"The quality goes in before the name goes on" - slogan used by Zenith, I think the last US TV manufacturer.
Dave: I was very glad that you responded to Dr Drollas, a prompt response was called for, and I have no argument with the one that you gave.  But there were a couple of issues that I felt could bear to be repeated about my concern with his position.

And as for the commentators, they are building a record that it will be hard to deny in later years.

You have to be kidding about the commentators. They would deny like a man caught sleeping with another woman by his wife. Deny, deny, deny, until she finally believes what she wanted to believe in the first place. The sheeple will never remember.
Dave Cohen wrote:
>>>Reserves don't matter outside producing them. Yesterday, NPR had a guy who said that by the time this Lower Tertiary formation got into production -- if it ever does -- what we could get out of it would at best make up for Gulf of Mexico declines. That observation is correct.

Chevron, Partners, Hail Oil Find in Gulf

...Companies have been drilling in the area for several years, but analyst David Heikkinen of Pickering Energy Partners says this is the first time one of them has succeeded in producing oil there. [Heikkinen:] "Now you have a proof that not only is there oil in the ground, but it's going to be productive, and with that production test, the confidence level for companies to move forward with additional explorations to try to replace the declining production in the Gulf of Mexico increases significantly."

...To be sure, 3 to 15 billion barrels is still a small part of the world's total oil supply. It's just a fraction of  what can be found in the vast fields of the Middle East and no one is promising that the new fields will mean long term energy independence for the United States, which consumes nearly 6 billion barrels of oil every year.  The challenge of removing the oil from the region is still huge. The companies had to drill through 20,000 feet of the earth's core to reach the oil. David Heikkinen of Pickering Energy Partners says it will take years to build the pipelines that will bring the oil to shore. [Heikkinen:] "The production doesn't come online for 3 to 4 years, and at that point in time probably the shallower waters and the rest of the American production volumes will have declined that this is just going to replace the natural declines of the existing production."  Heikkinen says that's probably why the oil markets had a only a small reaction to today's announcement. October oil futures were down just slightly.
Jim Zarroli, NPR News, New York.

(David Heikkinen, Managing Director, Responsible for coverage of exploration and production companies, Pickering Energy Partners.  Professional background: Subsea and Operations Engineer - Shell International Exploration and Production.)

"The companies had to drill through 20,000 feet of the earth's core to reach the oil."

I suspect that the drills didn't quite reach the Earth's core. Now, that would be some operation...


True, but Saudi and Venezuela are up, as is all of Opec without Iraq. Unfortunately we need a longer term trend to see what the Opec card is than the last few months. It is unusual that the price of crude has not been as adversely affected as one would expect after more than 18 months of plateau. I can only surmise that the third world is truly feeling the pain. When do the big boys start battling it out?
It takes time.$65 is the new $50. $2.60 a gallon is the new $2.00 a gallon. Watch demand come back with a vengenace as the price heads lower. Disruptions ( as long as they do not become permanent) dont change fundamentals. Crude oil has been steadily rising and seems to find support near its 200 day moving average. So we should be at the bottom of the range now.  
http://today.reuters.com/news/articlebusiness.aspx?type=tnBusinessNews&storyID=nSP282454&ima geid=&cap=&from=business
Saudi pumping around 9 mln bpd of oil-Aramco exec


SINGAPORE, Sept 6, 2006 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, is pumping about 9 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude, a senior official with state-owned Saudi Aramco said on Wednesday, less than was estimated in a Reuters poll for August.

"We are around 9 million barrels per day," Ibrahim Mishari, vice-president of marketing and supply planning, told a forum in Singapore.

He declined to be more precise.

A Reuters poll of consultants, shippers, industry and OPEC sources on Tuesday estimated Saudi Arabia output at 9.3 million bpd.

(The EIA showed Saudi Arabia to be producing 9.5 million bpd, crude + condensate, in December, 2006)

(The EIA showed Saudi Arabia to be producing 9.5 million bpd, crude + condensate, in December, 2005)
Westexas: I was just reading this EIA report on SA as of Aug 05. It is pretty interesting. At that time they estimated Jan-Jul 05 production of 10.9 per day (21% over current production). There is also an interesting graph estimating current (Sept 06) production will be approx. 11.6 per day. The article also lists the claims of easily improved production (which are not as loud lately).http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/saudi.html  
I think that they were talking about total liquids, which I'm sure is also down around 5% since December, 2005.
Notice in that table that they list Iraq as being able to increase output from 1.94MB/day to 2.20MB/day within 30 days and sustain it for 90 days.

That sounds really optimistic to me, considering the conditions in that country right now.

Where do you think the 100,000+ troops are? Not in Sudan or Dafur I can assure you. Yes; these axis's of evil don't have enough oil to PROTECT.

The oil infrastructure is the best protected part of iraq. That I can guarantee you. So conditions in the (rest) of the country can be all they like!


I find it amazing that the price of oil fluctuates so much on the rumours of path of weather systems and discoveries that will take 5 or 10 years to bring onstream. The fall of 50 million BOPD from OPEC's production strikes me as much more significant. Its a cinch they're not shutting it in because of low prices.
Hey, just a call out for anyone interested in helping inform a forum filled with a lot of very capable do-it-yourselfers over at the CountryPlans Design/Build forum on the vagaries of Peak Oil (http://www.countryplans.com/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1157481783 )
The forum is for people designing and building their own homes, so clearly they have a lot to offer this community in terms of experience and advice on preparing ourselves.

(Note: I linked directly to the Peak Oil discussion thread.  Check out the parent threads if you're looking for design/build advice.)

I was under the belief that below 15,000 feet the temperatures are too high for the long chain molecules of petroleum to exist. Only nat gas can exist at those temps. The report says they went down over 28,000 feet. What gives???
That's a good question and I don't you the answer.

Anybody? Petroleum geologists?

I am watching new spelling and grammar being born here. I have no idea what "I don't you the answer" means in normal English so it's a more radical mutation than most.
I don't you the answer means I am thinking faster than I am typing. Or vice versa, take your pick.

The Gulf has recently sunk to that depth and so hasn't had time to heat up. (That's what I read anyway.)
Where exactly did you read that?

Good question, I wonder if the water column (9,000 feet) has to be discounted however I don't think that removing it would impact the pressure/temperature gradient.
Assuming a density of 1.0 g/cm^3 for water, and about 3.5 g/cm^3 for the rock forming the GOM basin, 9,000 feet of water is equivalent to about (1.0/3.5)*9,000 = 2,571 feet of rock in terms of weight (pressure). It probably counts for something. :o)


There is an answer to this published on the thread today, but, basicially, the sediments have subsided so quickly in this part of the Gulf that they have not heated up unough to crate natural gas. I'm not a geochemist or geologist, but the explanation makes sense to me.
At any given point (latitude and longitude) there will be a depth below which it is so hot that kerogen will crack directly into gas, and even oil will eventually degrade. The depth is referred to as the "oil floor". There is also an "oil ceiling" - at shallower depths the temperature is too low to start the oil generation process in kerogen. The depths between these limits are the "oil window", which can be expressed in temperature or depth.

The depth of the floor is not a constant of nature. It depends slightly on the annual mean surface temperature (seasonal fluctuations die out in the first few metres) and strongly on the geothermal gradient, i.e. the rate at which temperature increases with depth. This in turn depends on the thermal conductivity of the rock and most importantly on the heat flux from the upper mantle. Where the Earth's crust is thin, or where there is a mantle plume, you get a high heat flux and a high gradient.

The oil floor varies in time as well as space. Tectonic stress in a rift province can thin the crust and make things hotter - hence all the oilfields in the failed rift of the North Sea. Sedimentary burial takes things deeper and makes them hotter - but as someone mentioned upthread, if burial is very rapid the oil may survive for millions of years before it heats up enough to crack to gas.

One of things you come to learn in the oil business is that the solid Earth is anything but - it is dynamic on all timescales. Unravelling the thermal history of a sedimentary basin is one of the key skills of petroleum exploration geoscience. Looks like Chevron's geoscientists got it right, and persuaded their bosses to tru$t their judgement. Good for them.


Oh my God, plucky, thanks...

Good explanation. In North Italy there are geologic formations termed 'turbidites' from the turbidity of the mud that formed them. There were periods of geological history there during which there would be massive mud slides, building up inches or even feet in weeks or even in hours. Then a short few thousand years would pass, then more slides building up an extremely rapid sedimentation. Not surprisingly, there was at least one oil find in North Italy of around 20,000 ft. depth probably due to just this rapid change in depth and the relative 'coolness' of where the oil ended up. The Earth's crust is indeed dynamic.
That last comment rounds the story off nicely. The sedimentary deposits in the Gulf of Mexico are precisely that, turbidites. Namely, all the sedimentary gunge that the Mississippi brings in from half a continent and dumps in the outer delta fan. Currently 400 million tons per year...


...that's a cubic kilometre of fresh mud every five years, 10 million cubic kilometres since the Lower Tertiary, maybe 15 kilometres of dewatered sediment in some areas. That's gonna push things down a bit...

The recent introduction of homo sapians, especially the European variety, has increased Mississippi River sediments.

So extrapolating the current rate back in time will give too high a geological estimate.  However, the period of the "Super Dust Bowl" with loess deposits probably had even higher rates.

Fame is so fleeting. The news that US oil reserves had increased by 50% was on the Beeb yesterday
but doesn't rate a mention today.