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Only recently has the technology existed to enable economically feasible deepwater exploration, but with better technical development and increased demand for oil exploration, operators have recently invested in deep sea projects to access deposits buried very deep under the sea floor


Beneath the world’s oceans – in waters ranging from a few hundred to several 1000 metres deep – lie vast supplies of oil & natural gas with the potential to boost economic growth and play a vital role in the future energy mix.

There could be around 270 billion barrels of recoverable oil alone in deep water worldwide, according to the IEA.

Deepwater is considered to be anything more than midwater (4000/5000 ft or 1219/1524 meters) but not ultra-deep.
The top end of deepwater comes in at around 7000 feet (2133 meters).

Just like the shallow water definition creep over time, there was a time when even depths of 1000 feet (305 meters) were considered to be deepwater.
This is an illustration of how we’ve evolved and advanced technology over time.

It was once thought nearly impossible to access the oil that lies far beneath the ocean floor, but new seismic and drilling technologies, including drills that can be placed in 10,000 feet of water and drill 5 miles into the earth, have made ultra-deepwater oil production reality.

However, many technologies still need to be developed to make ultra-deepwater oil E&P safe and efficient, including:
  • Drilling rigs, platforms, piping, and other equipment that can withstand waves
  • Tools to cut and weld metal underwater
  • Efficient ways to transport equipment and oil over vast distances of water
  • Adequate remediation/decommissioning strategies
Brazil leads the world in the development of deepwater and ultra-deepwater projects.