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Development of Offshore Oil Production

There are several stages in offshore oil and gas development. These ensure that oil production can be carried out economically while minimising safety hazards and environmental impact.

The first stage is exploration, which involves locating and characterising potential petroleum reserves beneath the seabed. Techniques used here include seismic surveys, sediment sampling, and exploratory drilling.

The planning and development phase is next, determining the best oil extraction methods. The third stage is the installation of the oil rig platform, pipelines, and drilling equipment.

Offshore drilling then begins, and the extracted hydrocarbons are transported via pipelines to an onshore processing facility.

There are several ways offshore oil companies promote environmental protection. For example, specialised equipment prevents hydrocarbons entering the ocean, and operational discharges, like cuttings, are shipped to shore to avoid at-sea disposal. Operations are also restricted from marine protected areas and critical habitats.

When production ends, there are still large amounts of petroleum left beneath the seabed, so enhanced oil recovery (EOR) may be used. In other cases, wells are permanently capped and abandoned, and oil rig platforms are converted into artificial reefs.

Key fact: EOR can extract between 30-60% more of a reservoir's oil.

Benefits

  • Creates jobs

  • Boosts economy

  • Reduces energy prices

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