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Marginal Field Development; Real World Examples and Strategies for Success

McCants, C. Y.
Geoscience, Nio Petroleum, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

As crude prices forever fluctuate, global energy demand climbs to higher levels, and new players enter the market, definition of ‘marginal field' changes. Two examples of marginal field developments are presented along with how some companies viewed commerciality and how others monetized the assets. Fit for purpose solutions can make a difference.

An offshore gas discovery by a major company did not fit their corporate strategy. A regional office took on the task of trying to make something out of what was considered nothing. The new strategy was to reduce the subsurface uncertainty with minimal expenditure and then market the asset. A relatively inexpensive 3D seismic survey was acquired and onshore field geological mapping performed to better explain the reservoir geology, and an appraisal well was drilled. The resulting process took 18 months in a new subsurface model, the drilling and completion of the highest flowing gas discovery in the region, and an asset sale. The company made money on the deal and the gas field has produced for >10 years; a win-win situation for both companies, and the host country government.

Eight wells were drilled over 20 years on a large offshore structure by two companies in the late 1900s, but recognition of the oil field's commerciality remained elusive. A medium sized operator subsequently acquired the acreage and drilled three additional wells, but the asset's commerciality remained elusive. A relatively new entrant to oil exploitation obtained operatorship and approached this marginal field development with an attitude of what will it take to commercialize the field. Selective 3D seismic reprocessing/modeling, a complete reinterpretation of the subsurface reservoir architecture, and a fit for purpose and first of its kind in-country development facilities were initiated. Every step of the way involved queries of is it ‘like to have' or ‘have to have'. This resulted in a successful commercial development that was ahead of schedule and under budget.

Exploitation of marginal fields will continue to attract oil companies' attention. Technological advances, crude price variations, and innovative surface/subsurface development solutions all play a critical part in monetizing marginal assets. Costs and cycle times must be minimized every step of the way. A glass half full philosophy by executive management also never hurts.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90155©2012 AAPG International Conference & Exhibition, Singapore, 16-19 September 2012