To Find Oil, You Have to Drill

Date: 03/31/2011

Meeting global energy needs

Under current policies, global primary energy demand is forecast to grow by more than 40% over the next 25 years. To meet this demand, a wide range of energy resources is required, with oil and natural gas providing the majority. Yet about half of the conventional oil needed by the end of the next decade has still to be developed—or even found—and it is possible that conventional non-OPEC oil production levels may already be reaching a plateau. New oil supplies to fill the deficit will have to come from more unconventional and difficult-to-reach sources that require new technology for their safe and economic development.

Unconventional growth

The situation is similar for natural gas—much of the production needed by 2035 will come from fields placed on production since 2008. And while considerable conventional sources exist, the vast majority of the world’s gas resources are unconventional—trapped in shale formations, low-permeability reservoirs, and coalbed methane formations. Although producing from these unconventional reservoirs is technologically intensive, the growth in their contribution to today’s energy production has been dramatic, particularly in the United States.

New geographies

With costs rising for new supplies of both oil and natural gas, the challenges of matching supply and demand can only increase. New geographies characterize some of these challenges, including offshore Greenland and central Sub-Saharan Africa, while extraordinary concentrations of activity can be found in Brazil, the North Sea, North Africa, Southeast Asia, Eastern and Western Siberia, and the Caspian.

Industry challenges

Across these and other areas, the industry is challenged by deeper water, more difficult logistics, increasingly complex geological settings, and higher degrees of temperature and pressure. The result is greater difficulty in transforming resources into reserves and reserves into production.

Given this context, an old industry adage holds truer than ever: If you want to find oil, you have to drill. But not only do you have to drill, you also have to increase the intensity at which you drill—in terms of technological sophistication, well and reservoir complexity, and operational efficiency and effectiveness.

Related services and products


Designing for Faster DrillingUnderstanding Rock Mechanics
PrevNextZoom1 of 2