John Snedden, director of the Gulf Basin Depositional Synthesis Project and Senior Research Scientist at the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics (UTIG), recently contributed comments for several articles, including a front-page newspaper article regarding crude oil exploration operations in the Gulf of Mexico.Dr. Snedden spoke to the Houston Chronicle about the ongoing allure of the Gulf to oil companies, despite the rise of onshore drilling projects in recent years.
In the article, written by the Chronicle’s Jennifer Dlouhy, Dr. Snedden states that the Gulf basin “keeps reinventing itself.”
“We keep finding new plays. And that’s why everybody’s (oil companies) here,” he added.
The article goes on to discuss the costs associated with pulling crude oil from the Gulf, risks that many oil companies are willing to accept because of the potential for a high yield from a stable regulatory environment. However, the article also explains how areas of the Gulf can vary in crude output, comparing a relatively high success rate in an area geologists call the Outboard Lower Tertiary trend against poorer results in the Inboard Lower Tertiary and the Jurassic.
Dr. Snedden commented, “We’ve had some successes, but we’ve also had some very expensive dry holes.”
He also noted the difference in costs between onshore and offshore drilling wells, stating that the onshore version costs $3-5 million while an offshore well in the Lower Tertiary runs about $150 million, according to the article.
In another article by Dlouhy in June, Dr. Snedden addressed the Statoil Martin well being drilled into a subsalt, Miocene sandstone reservoir formation about 43 miles off the Louisiana coast in ultra deepwater.
Saying the company “thinks they have a game changer,” Dr. Snedden added, “At the end of the day, if Statoil has a huge success here in a billion-barrel field, they can silence all the critics,” Snedden said. “If they open up a new play or set up a large field, it will have been worth it. If Statoil has a big Miocene sub-salt discovery here, then no one will remember the ‘money left on the table.‘”
Dr. Snedden has more than 25 years of industry experience with Mobil and ExxonMobil, including 11 years in research. His technical specialties include sequence and seismic stratigraphy, sedimentology, reservoir characterization, reservoir connectivity analysis and unconventional resource evaluation. He has published more than 30 scientific papers and is first author on 23 of those.