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Deep Exploration: The Next Oil and Gas Industry Challenge


Morash, Alain1, Philippe De Clarens2, Stephane Raillard3 (1) Total Geosciences Division, Paris, France (2) Total Direction Strategie Croissance, Paris, France (3) Total, Pau, France


Since a few years Deep targets Exploration becomes one of the main challenges for oil and gas industries. This new frontier exploration involves all the shallower plays already explored.

More than forty years ago the Total group started a successful deep exploration in the southwest of France with Lacq and Meillon discoveries. More recently in the nineties, the Total Group achieved deep exploration in North Sea discovering among others the HPHT Elgin Franklin field.

This deep exploration represents challenges for all the branches of the E&P industry : Exploration, drilling, formation evaluation, production.

Explorationists face new geological contexts that still need to be fully understood (reser­voir, petroleum system, high pressure and high temperature environment) often despite poor seismic data. What are the key drivers to locate prospective areas? Regional under­standing based on pertinent geological concepts is one of the main tools to lead this deep exploration. Drilling is an other challenge. With HPHT conditions and narrow mud weight drillers have to operate in a degraded mode without usual downhole LWD tools. Oil & gas industry will have to evaluate prospectivity of this deep exploration targets based on a good assessment of these associated risks and uncertainties.