Deepwater oil and gas

BP’s expertise and technology are helping to extract deepwater oil and gas safely and efficiently

We have deepwater drilling interests in Angola, Brazil, Egypt, India, Trinidad & Tobago, the UK and US, and we are pursuing further deepwater growth opportunities in Australia and Canada.

Safe operating in deep water

Producing oil and gas from deepwater reservoirs creates engineering and technical challenges - reservoirs can be 35,000 feet (10,660 metres) below sea level at high pressure and high temperature.  We use advanced technology to help us overcome these challenges safely and responsibly, and run tailored training programmes to develop the right capability in our teams.

Advanced technology

Enhanced equipment and techniques can allow safe access to new sources of oil and gas. For example, together with industry peers, we are applying expertise developed over many years to extract oil and gas from high pressure, high temperature undersea reservoirs that have previously been beyond the reach of drilling equipment. We use management and engineering approaches, such as rigorous equipment testing, that have proven effective in a wide range of settings.

We use advanced technology to monitor conditions in our wells, enhance operational safety and improve drilling efficiency. For example, BP Well Advisor is a digital monitoring system that helps people working both offshore and onshore to view and respond to changes in well conditions and safety equipment. We use BP Well Advisor to monitor key areas such as cementing, pressure testing, and blowout preventers - devices that are used to seal, control and monitor oil and gas wells.

We have remote monitoring capabilities in our Aberdeen, Baku, Houston, Luanda and Stavanger offices that enable us to oversee conditions in our offshore wells as needed. In addition, teams at our monitoring centre in Houston monitor data from our operated rigs in the Gulf of Mexico 24 hours a day through real-time information feeds and video.

Deepwater capability

Our petrotechnical academy offers training courses in topics such as drilling engineering and well site leadership. In 2015 we supplemented our training with Maersk Training’s state-of-the-art simulation facilities. The simulators replicate nearly every critical job on an offshore drilling rig. BP has started using the facilities to run customized exercises for offshore drilling teams, meaning teams made up of employees and contractors can practice scenarios relevant to their particular well to enhance operating and safety performance.

“One of our teams was put to the test shortly after completing the scenario-based simulator training provided by Maersk Training. They encountered a high pressure sand while drilling an exploration well off the coast of Egypt and dealt with the issue effectively, closing the well quickly and safely. There is no doubt in my mind that the training they completed was a critical factor in preparing them specifically for the sorts of challenges they were likely to encounter drilling this well.”

Jim O’Leary, vice president wells, Africa, BP

Environmental impacts

We conduct baseline data collection and ongoing monitoring of specific deepwater environments so we can better manage the potential impacts from our operations, such as disturbance to sensitive areas or marine habitats. This helps us in planning drilling activities, laying pipelines and building offshore platforms, as well as in responding to oil spills.

In Brazil, where BP has been awarded two licence blocks in deep water, we worked with other exploration companies to carry out an initial marine environmental survey as required by the regulator. Images of the sea floor and sediment samples suggested that an area we had initially earmarked for a logistic support vessel contained sensitive habitats. As a result, BP has changed its plans to anchor in this area. In addition, we commissioned Rio de Janeiro Federal University and the University of Florida to perform oil biodegradation experiments using deepwater samples from the area. Their findings will inform our decisions around oil spill response planning.

In Angola we carried out an extensive environmental monitoring survey around our offshore blocks, taking over 43,000 man hours to collect samples from over 150 locations. This builds on baseline and monitoring surveys conducted over a decade to meet regulatory requirements. The survey has further helped our understanding of the biological conditions of our deepwater environment. We discovered underwater features such as deepwater coral reefs as well as organisms that produce energy from methane, in a process a bit like photosynthesis for a dark environment. The outcomes enabled us to demonstrate that in our operated blocks there has been no measurable impact on the environment since we began our operations.


The information on this page forms part of the information reviewed and reported on by Ernst & Young as part of BP's 2015 sustainability reporting. View the full assurance statement.

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