The next frontier for offshore drilling: deepwater fracking

Energy companies are taking their fracking operations from the land to the sea - the deep waters off the U.S., South American and African coast - as advances in technology and vast offshore discoveries finally have combined to make large scale deepwater fracking feasible.

The big play is in the Gulf of Mexico, where wells more than 100 miles from the coastline must traverse water depths of a mile or more and can cost nearly $100M to drill - a potential boon for oil service providers such as Halliburton (NYSE:HAL), Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI) and Superior Energy (NYSE:SPN), and major producers such as Chevron (NYSE:CVX), Shell (RDS.A, RDS.B) and BP could reap billions of dollars over time as fracking helps boost crude output.

At sea, wastewater from fracked wells is dumped overboard into the vast Gulf, where dilution renders it harmless, companies and regulators say; but "nobody knows what they’ve been discharging and in what amounts," according to the oceans director for the Center for Biological Diversity.

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Comments (12)
  • Sirius Rich
    , contributor
    Comments (3) | Send Message
    The Oceans Director for the Center of Biological Diversity is an idiot. Nothing is discharged overboard unless approved by appropriate and multiple regulatory agencies. WTF is biological diversity anyway? Yes they have a web site with a polar bear on the front page.
    7 Aug 2014, 09:12 PM Reply Like
  • jdhawk
    , contributor
    Comments (48) | Send Message
    Fracking has been a wonderful success where it has been done on provide lands. The ocean is a whole different story. There, the Ovomit regime with their multiple dragnet of agencies has tied up drilling of any kind with decades of crippling red tape.


    In fact, the only extracting that will be done is the moronic public being scared into to giving millions to the plethora of so-called environmentalists like the "Center of Biological Diversity" that then funnels the money to the democrat party like some endless RICO felony only no one ever get charged, tried and thrown in jail.


    Meanwhile, trillions of dollars of our treasure go to the purchase of fossil fuels from the Middle East that we could have kept here at home. That money, in turn, fuels religious fanatics that would like nothing better than to kill us all if we let them get the chance.


    But, yeah, other than the above, it sounds like a solid plan . . . .
    7 Aug 2014, 10:34 PM Reply Like
  • jumpnjoey77
    , contributor
    Comments (1228) | Send Message
    8% of U.S. oil imports comes from the Middle East.
    7 Aug 2014, 10:36 PM Reply Like
  • Mike Walker
    , contributor
    Comments (397) | Send Message
    This article is a fantasy. Just not enough rate and production in the typical framed well to make a deepwater version even remotely viable.
    7 Aug 2014, 10:38 PM Reply Like
  • Grant Payne
    , contributor
    Comments (337) | Send Message
    I would think that they'd do some cursory fracking before investing too heavily just to make sure that there is enough production.


    I think there's enough low hanging fruit under the sea, when fracking is involved.
    7 Aug 2014, 10:49 PM Reply Like
  • berbno1
    , contributor
    Comments (1622) | Send Message
    "low hanging fruit" analogy has got twisted around and mis-used.


    "Talk of the real orchard harvesters who begin picking the best fruits from the higher branches, exposed better sunlight. Consequently the low hanging fruits are harvested in the end when they are adequately ripened. In the business world too, having higher targets would lead to better results than choosing low hanging fruit which may not be beneficial in the long run."
    8 Aug 2014, 06:11 AM Reply Like
  • arthur_bishop1972
    , contributor
    Comments (4518) | Send Message
    <At sea, wastewater from fracked wells is dumped overboard into the vast Gulf, where dilution renders it harmless, companies and regulators say>


    I'm sure it's completely harmless.
    8 Aug 2014, 12:42 AM Reply Like
  • wild-t
    , contributor
    Comments (2) | Send Message
    So happens I fracpack deepwater wells for a living. We test all overboard discharges for oil & grease, and static sheen. All chemicals used in the fracturing fluid are tested to ensure no lethality in aquatic organisms. The primary constituent of most frac fluids is guar gum, which is the viscosifier. It is a food source for much of the world (check out the ingredients on a carton of chocolate is listed as a "thickener"). The fish can digest it and grow. This is some POS Enviro-moron's hit piece to try to bring some more enviro-nazis to protest hydraulic fracturing, so some even more obscure foundation can gouge some grant money out of oil companies or the gov. BTW there is no K in frac! As you were...
    8 Aug 2014, 12:44 PM Reply Like
  • arthur_bishop1972
    , contributor
    Comments (4518) | Send Message
    Interesting, wild-t...thank you.
    8 Aug 2014, 12:59 PM Reply Like
  • rdullom
    , contributor
    Comments (17) | Send Message
    Would this be of some benefit to affshore drillers longer term?
    8 Aug 2014, 05:28 PM Reply Like
  • londontrader
    , contributor
    Comments (4) | Send Message
    They said that the drilling they did before in the gulf was safe until the massive oil spill happened,same players halliburton and bp


    So much for the above comments disinfo agents
    9 Aug 2014, 11:40 AM Reply Like
  • fhbecker
    , contributor
    Comments (319) | Send Message
    Not exactly sure what the authors point is other than showing some general oil patch ignorance. It appears to me they know little about Deep Water Oil and Gas exploration.


    Typically, the onshore frac jobs involve drilling into the source rocks (~3,500' to 12,500' deep), followed by many (20+) frac stages to open fractures in the source rocks and allow the hydrocarbons to flow to the surface.


    Deep water wells cost $150 - $250 million (not $100m as the author indicates) and encounter hydrocarbons miles above the source rocks. Drilling to the source rocks in the Gulf of Mexico, and then attempting to frac them makes no economic sense. Onshore wells to the source rocks, $0.5 million, offshore wells to the source rocks +$350 million (guess).


    Typical frac jobs in the deep water and Shelf for that matter, involve frac'in conventional reservoirs to increase their productivity. Offshore costs are very, very high, as all the frac fluid, and proppant, etc, need to barged out, then they stand by until the weather, etc. cooperates, all the while you get to pay $1 million a day stand by charges for the rig, not to mention all the barge etc. charges. Need a hell-of-a-well to make that money back.
    10 Aug 2014, 05:20 PM Reply Like
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