Posts Tagged ‘Arena’

Per the BSEE borehole file, there were 2 deepwater exploratory well starts since 4/1/2023. The Shell well is another GoM milestone in that it is the 150th well spudded in >8000′ of water. The first was in the year 2000.

Operatorspud datelocationwater depth
Chevron5/5/2023Mississippi Canyon 6086678′
Shell4/13/2023Alaminos Canyon 7288660′

Arena and Cantium continue to drive shelf drilling. Below are the shelf development wells since 4/1/2023:

Operatorspud datelocationwater depth
Arena5/6/2023Eugene Island 261160′
Cantium4/8/2023Main Pass 3860′
Cantium4/1/2023Main Pass 299217′

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Operating companies (listed alphabetically): Arena, Anadarko (Oxy), BHP, bp, Cantium, Chevron, Hess, Murphy, Shell, and Walter


  • Must average <0.3 incidents of compliance (INCs) per inspection. (This is less than half the GoM 2022 YTD average of 0.64 INCs/inspection.)
  • Must operate at least 3 production platforms.
  • Must have drilled at least one well.
  • Pacific and Alaska operations will be considered in a separate post.


  • Impressive performance by Hess: 21 inspections and no INCs
  • Cantium and Walter averaged less than 0.1 INCs/inspection. The INC rates for Anadarko (Oxy), BHP, and BP were only slightly higher.
  • Among the Honor Roll companies, Shell (highest production, 9 deepwater platforms, and 13 well starts) and Arena (115 shelf platforms and 12 well starts) were the deepwater and shelf activity leaders.They thus had the highest INC exposure.
  • Although CSI and FSI INCs are typically more significant than W INCs, that is not always the case, so the INCs have not been weighted by type.
  • As has been previously noted, more inspection data should be readily available online. At a minimum, the specific INC (type) numbers (e.g. P-103, G-110, etc) should be posted so the public can better assess performance. Absent this information, interested parties are left to speculate about the significance of the violations.
  • Incident data should also be considered in performance assessments. Unfortunately, the inexplicable lag in the posting of BSEE incident tables, precludes the use of these data in our analysis.

Compliance vs. Safety

While compliance is not synonymous with safety, most experienced observers believe there is a strong correlation. In the 1990’s, John Shultz, a PhD candidate at Carnegie Mellon Univ., studied US offshore facilities and safety data and developed expert and regression models to predict the likelihood of accidents and spills. That was a data rich era in that there were ~4000 US offshore platforms (more than twice the current number) and ~100 well starts/month (>10 times the current rate). In John’s thesis, he found that INCs are a very good predictor of accidents and spills. The offshore world has changed and further study of the correlation between compliance and safety performance is highly recommended.

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  • Operating companies that produced >1 million bbls of oil or >1 BCF of gas in 2021 are listed in descending order based on oil production.
  • Both the total number of well starts and the number of exploratory wells are indicated
  • An INC is an Incident of Noncompliance (i.e. a violation). W=warning, CSI=component shut-in, and FSI=facility shut-in are the enforcement actions.
  • All of the below data are publicly available on the BSEE-BOEM websites.
oil (MMbbls)
gas (BCF)
well starts

Anadarko (Oxy)67.757.88-68-5-1
QuarterNorth4.28.3no data
GoM Shelf2.34.852-5-2
Samchully0.021.2no data


  • “Energy transition” companies Shell and bp still love the Gulf of Mexico, which is a good thing for them and us. Together they accounted for 42.4% of the 2021 oil production.
  • The top 4 producers, Shell, bp, Chevron (includes Unocal), and Anadarko accounted for 2/3 of GoM oil production, nearly all of which was from deepwater leases.
  • Those are impressive production numbers for Anadarko (Oxy). No wonder Warren Buffett likes Oxy stock.
  • The relative number of deepwater exploratory wells is mildly encouraging given our concerns about sustaining production.
  • Exploratory well determinations are rather subjective and may not be entirely consistent.
  • Understandably, no exploratory wells were drilled by Arena or Cantium, the companies responsible for most well operations on shelf (shallow water) leases.
  • Overall, the INC numbers are impressively low for the deepwater operators, with Chevron and LLOG standing out. BSEE does not post the specific violation information (more on this in an upcoming post), so it’s difficult to properly assess a company’s compliance record.
  • Unfortunately, incident data could not be included on the scoreboard. BSEE’s incident tables are badly out of date, and no 2021/2022 summaries have been posted.
  • Fieldwood’s disturbing INC numbers were discussed earlier this year. High INC rates for 3 other operators have also were noted last month.
  • Exxon production is limited to the Hoover Diana spar, which was installed 22 years ago. The largest US oil company has only drilled one GoM exploratory well (2018) in the past 5 years. Currently, their main GoM interest seems to be the sequestration (disposal) of onshore emissions. (More on this topic in an upcoming post.)

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