Deep Offshore Reserves, a Strategic Resource for Future Energy Solutions


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As an integrated oil and gas operator, our primary mission is to produce enough energy to cover the world's needs. Deep offshore oil and gas resources have acquired strategic importance in supplying the energy solutions of tomorrow and could hold the key to renewing reserves and increasing production.

Tapping Growth

Our prospective studies show that the oil and gas held in deepwater reserves may amount to nearly 350 billion barrels of oil equivalent (BOE), or 8% of the world's resources. We also believe that two thirds of deep offshore oil and gas resources are still waiting to be discovered.

Production too is constantly on the rise and is expected to reach more than 18 million BOE per day by 2035, up from 7.5 million BOE per day in 2015.

These figures explain why oil and gas companies – including Total, a pioneer in the field – have gone to such considerable effort to develop technologies that push the limits of deepwater exploration, and will continue to do so in the future. There is no doubt that deep offshore reserves are a genuine source of growth that must be tapped to satisfy our ever-increasing demand for energy.

The percentage of our exploration potential located in deepwater areas
Total's forecasted share of deep offshore production in 2019
Total, no.  
deep offshore operator in West Africa by production volume

Total, a Deepwater Pioneer and Leader

We started deepwater exploration 30 years ago in the 1980s. By the end of the 20th century, our efforts began to pay off with a number of discoveries in the late 1990s.

While finding a reservoir in a deepwater environment is hard, bringing it on stream is even more challenging. At Total, however, a culture of innovation and technological excellence is part of our DNA and has allowed us to push the limits of developments despite the difficulties inherent in these new areas. With each new project, our engineers and research and development (R&D) teams have found solutions to increasingly challenging issues such as adapting to harsher environments, deeper waters and harder-to-reach fluids, optimizing production and preserving marine biodiversity. We boast strong expertise in a wide variety of areas ranging from geology, geophysics and drilling to production, floating production and the environment.

In West Africa in particular, we invested heavily after discovering giant deep offshore fields. We are now the basin's leading operator with plans to start up three new floating production, storage and offloading units (FPSOs) by 2018.

Optimizing Our Investments

By capitalizing on the highly diverse expertise that we have built up over time, we continue to break new ground in the technologically challenging field of deepwater exploration and production. But technology is not everything, and one of our greatest strengths is our ability to profitably develop resources once they have been discovered. This is important because project costs remain high despite increased productivity, especially in times of falling oil prices. We rise to this challenge by constantly seeking new ways to boost efficiency, chiefly through R&D. Some of the major issues Total researchers are currently looking into include how to reduce project development and operating costs and how to develop fields sometimes located hundreds of kilometers offshore. They are also working to invent disruptive technologies capable of ensuring production in water depths of up to 3,000 meters and more and to improve the integrity of our facilities.

Leveraging R&D to Optimize Investments

The crucial first step in transforming potential resources into extractable oil and gas is to develop the technological ability to explore these frontier areas. In particular, this means continuously improving how well our technologies acquire and process seismic data. That is why in 2013 we acquired a new supercomputer, Pangea. One of the most powerful computers in the world, Pangea will increase Total's computing power threefold in 2016. That will lead to more accurate subsurface mapping and, by extension, more targeted drilling, saving us time and money. We are also capitalizing on our expertise to break new boundaries in ultra-deep offshore production, explore small, remote fields, extract hard-to-reach oil and improve long-distance subsea transportation. Needless to say, none of this will compromise our commitment to managing risks and limiting the environmental footprint of our developments. With these strengths on our side, we will be able to image complex geological formations, including underneath salt layers, at resolutions that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.