Deepwater oil and gas

BP’s expertise and technology are helping to extract deepwater oil and gas safely and efficiently 
The Jack Ryan drillship in Block 31 Angola, Africa A view of the derrick on board Jack Ryan drillship in Block 31 Angola, Africa

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

Producing oil and gas from deepwater reservoirs creates many engineering and technical challenges. The oil and gas reservoir itself can be as much as 35,000 feet (10,660 metres) below sea level, under layers of hard rock, thick salt and tightly packed sands.  

We produce oil and gas from wells in water depths that can be more than six times the height of the Eiffel Tower (6,800ft)

Enhanced techniques can allow safe access to new sources of oil and gas. We are working with experts across our industry to develop technology to extract oil and gas from high pressure undersea reservoirs – a resource that is beyond the reach of current deepwater drilling equipment.

Deepwater capability

Our global wells institute offers courses in areas such as drilling engineering and well site leadership. Our applied deepwater well control course uses simulator facilities to train key members of rig teams, including contractors. We have conducted more than 35 classes for rig crews from around the world since courses began in October 2012.

Advanced technology

We have monitoring centres in Aberdeen, Baku, Houston, Luanda, and Stavanger that enable us to oversee conditions in our offshore wells. Teams at our facility in Houston, for example, can monitor data from our operated rigs in the Gulf of Mexico 24 hours a day through real time information feeds and video.

BP Well Advisor

We use technology to monitor conditions in our wells, enhance operational safety and improve drilling efficiency. For example, BP Well Advisor consists of a series of consoles that display real-time data from our wells. This technology, used on more than 25 rigs worldwide, acts as an early warning system and helps people working both offshore and onshore to view and respond to changes in well conditions and safety equipment.


Q: Do you apply the same deepwater drilling standards to your operations globally?

Scott Sigurdson, VP area wells - Deepwater

A: We have a set of engineering and operating requirements designed to mitigate risks in our drilling, completion and well intervention operations. They contain a mixture of industry and additional BP-specific requirements. Many of these are applicable across our worldwide operations, such as requirements on cementing in the design, construction and decommissioning of a well.

Others are specific to the type of well we are drilling, the type of rig we are using or the subsurface conditions that we are likely to encounter. For example, some wells need to be designed to withstand high pressures and temperatures - these can be found in deepwater, shallow water or onshore environments. In these cases, we have specific requirements that aim to improve how we manage the risks of that particular situation.

Scott Sigurdson
Vice president, area wells - deepwater, BP


Environmental impacts

We conduct monitoring of specific deepwater environments so we can better manage the potential impacts from our operations. This helps us in planning drilling activities, laying pipelines and building offshore platforms, as well as in responding to oil spills.

In Angola, for example, we began observing environmental conditions when we started seismic and drilling activities at our Greater Plutonio project in 2002. As a result, we developed actions intended to manage environmental impacts, including adjusting the use of drilling chemicals to minimize effects on seabed fauna.

Our monitoring stations in Angolan waters gather data on ocean currents, temperature, sound and water chemistry, and take photographs of marine life. They are designed to be in place for 25 years. This helps us to understand long-term patterns in the deepwater environment and manage any changes that may be due to our operations. Results from these monitoring activities are published as scientific papers at


“The characterization of deepwater environments prior to exploration and drilling is very important, particularly as there is often very little existing information in these remote areas. BP has carried out major environmental surveys in its deepwater areas to better understand these ecosystems and manage the impact of development.” 

Dr Daniel Jones
Senior researcher, National Oceanography Centre, UK 



The information on this page forms part of the information reviewed and reported on by Ernst & Young as part of BP's 2014 sustainability reporting. View the full assurance statement.