A shift in how nations generate their electricity is causing a rise in natural gas demand following the Fukushima 2011 accident and the ever-growing need for cleaner-burning fuel.
The latest IPCC report highlights natural gas as a key bridge to a low-carbon future. However, with many onshore fields maturing, it seems IOCs and NOCs alike are gazing out to sea for their next big gas pay. Relatively immature shallow water (<500 metres water depth) gas plays seemingly offer a way of meeting rising global natural gas demand.
Douglas-Westwood (DW) in their World Development Drilling & Production Forecast expect much of the growth will be seen in APAC where LNG export opportunities to Japan and South Korea, coupled with high decline rates, will see well completions exceed 1,000 by 2020, up 44% from 717 in 2013. Thailand will account for a large amount of this; in 2013, 410 wells offshore gas wells were drilled for around 0.6 mboe/d gas.
This is in stark contrast to the Middle East where highly productive gas wells allow for small numbers of annual well completions. For example, Qatar drilled just 28 shallow water gas wells in 2013 for over 2.5 million boe/d gas.
This could increase to 2.7 million boe/d by 2020 if the Qatari government lift the current moratorium on the North Field, the world’s largest conventional gas deposit.
Also set to boost shallow water gas production is the continuing emergence of FLNG projects. In South East Asia, Petronas is set to deploy its 29 kboe/d FLNG1 vessel on Malaysia’s Kanowit deposit.
A year later Shell is to deploy its $12 billion facility on Australia’s Prelude gas field.
DW expect that such activity will see gas wells drilled in less than 500m of water rise by nearly a half to 1,845 by 2020 – thus leading to gas production from fields in such waters to surge to 21 million boe/d in 2020 from 16 million boe/d in 2013.