Implications for Strategy and Industrial Change
Edited by Ken Green, Marcela Miozzo and Paul Dewick
Chapter 4: Paths to Deepwater in the International Upstream Petroleum Industry
Virginia Acha and John Finch1 1. INTRODUCTION This chapter presents an analysis of recent developments and adaptations of capabilities among a subset of companies active in the world’s upstream oil and gas industry. These changes are due to this group of companies undertaking exploration and also production of hydrocarbon resources oﬀshore, in deepwater. The change is profound, and recognized among industry participants in which ‘deepwater’ has become a term of industrywide signiﬁcance describing a category of activity. Our study focuses partly on path dependencies in this development. However, interactions among oil companies (or operating companies) and services and supply companies are crucial, so paths are partly at the industry level, and partly in terms of identiﬁable approaches of individual companies. Despite deepwater being an object of investigation and research among some companies since the 1970s, a signiﬁcant accumulation of activity has been ongoing since the mid 1990s. Informal industry standards recognize deepwater exploration and production as occurring in water depths of over 400 metres, and ultradeepwater exploration and production activities in water depths of over 1000 metres. The very currency of ‘ultra-deepwater’ emphasizes that technological developments are ongoing, and that deﬁnitions lag behind. Further, despite oil companies acquiring considerable exploration rights from governments in licensing rounds going back to the early 1990s (termed ‘acreage’), and despite hundreds of exploration wells being drilled, including much publicized ‘record depths,’ the numbers of fully developed projects that are now in production is still relatively small. This pattern...
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