BHP takes novel approach to oil exploration

One of BHP's two fields in the Gulf of Mexico – Shenzi (44% interest). Image: BHP

BHP Petroleum has conducted an ocean bottom node (OBN) survey in the Western Gulf of Mexico (GOM) to allow the company to drill deeper and more complicated targets.

The survey is the first exploration specific OBN, using seismic technologies to address challenges in imaging sub-salt stratigraphy.

BHP has re-built its portfolio and focused on areas that demonstrate a geological-criteria fit over the last few years.

The company has been an active explorer and producer in the United States Gulf of Mexico for over two decades, with its petroleum headquarters in Texas and offshore production unit in the GOM.

“As you know the Gulf of Mexico is one of the oiliest bases on the planet,” BHP head of innovation Michelle Thomas said.

“There’s been many giant fields found across the industry, and it’s had a history of the technology evolving in lockstep with exploration. So as the technologies evolve, we’ve been able to drill deeper and more complicated targets.”

OBN is a proven seismic technology, and BHP took it one step further by defining its competitive advantage in the Western GOM, Thomas added.

The novel application of the OBN to address the sub-salt imaging challenge in the Western GOM has decidedly “pushed the envelope in terms of scale, scope and application.”

“Our analysis of the Gulf of Mexico indicated that there is still significant remaining potential. And it focused us into two main areas: one, in the Western Gulf of Mexico, and also the Mexican sector,” BHP vice president exploration and appraisal Niall McCormack said.

“BHP Petroleum’s exploration strategy is to target areas where we can find Tier 1 opportunities. It’s areas that we can explore for a decade and produce for half a century.”

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