As OE takes a look back on the year that was 2016, our website's most popular stories pretty much tell everything you need to know. It has been a depressing year for the industry with too many job cut announcements, rigs and vessel stacked (or sold), and projects and contracts cancelled. There were a few bright spots – such as Mexico's recent deepwater round and Pemex's first-ever farm-out – but, it is fair to say "Good Riddance" to 2016.
2017 may be slow at the start, but we are hopeful that there are many wonderful things yet to come.
Without further ado, here are OE's most popular online stories of 2016, followed by OE's most popular print magazine articles (long-reads) of 2016.
Exxon's Julia development is a tieback to Chevron's Jack/St. Malo FPU.
Image from Chevron.
A helicopter crashed suddenly and fatally near Bergen, Norway, on 29 April this year, killing 11 offshore workers and two pilots, when the main rotor head and mast suddenly detached. The aircraft had been returning from Statoil's Gullfaks B platform to Bergen Airport Flesland. A report issued two months after the crash said that a fatigue fracture in the aircraft's gear box as the most likely cause.
US supermajor Chevron pulled the plug on its long-awaited deepwater Gulf of Mexico project, Buckskin-Moccasin, instead choosing to advance other projects, particularly onshore in the Permian basin. The company's CEO John Watson, at the time, blamed market conditions for its decision to move on from the project, and said they had better places to spend their money.
|Image from Mexico's CNH|
No. 3 - Mexico round ends in success
What a difference a year makes! This time in 2015, OE was reporting on the disappointment following Mexico's Round 1 contest, which saw only two of 14 areas awarded. Fortunes were reversed in December, with eight of 10 blocks awarded in Mexico's deepwater areas.
No. 4 - Ocean Rig buys Cerrado drillship
In any other year, it would seem odd to have a story about a drillship being sold in the Top 10, however, the Cerrado happens to be somewhat special because it was the first sixth generation drillship to be sold. Quest Offshore told OE, at the time of the auction, that the price paid ($65 million) could set a new data point for future sales. Cyprus-based Ocean Rig stepped in to buy the sixth generation ultra-deepwater (UDW) drillship Cerrado, which once drilled the giant Libra prospect offshore Brazil, following its owner Brazil-based Schahin Group bankruptcy declaration last April.
Earlier this year, Wood Mackenzie released a report detailing how much the upstream oil and gas sector has been affected by the downturn. Some $380 billion worth of projects have been put on hold as a result of the fall in oil prices, and (at the time) the last six months of 2015 saw some 22 major projects deferred — amounting to 7 billion boe of commercial reserves put on hold.
No. 6 - ExxonMobil starts up Julia
This story was a rare piece of good news in the Top 10. ExxonMobil began oil production at its US$4 billion Julia oil field in the Gulf of Mexico in mid-April 2016.
No. 7 - ExxonMobil to spud Liza
More rare good news in the Top 10. Liza has been a success story for Exxon, following this particular article citing the US supermajor's intent to drill at its offshore Guyana prospect. Liza has paid off for Exxon. In June the company confirmed that the prospect has the potential of recoverable resources to be up to 1.4 billion boe. In November, the find was confirmed as commercial by Exxon's partner Hess Corp.
In August, Australia's BHP Billiton announced it had made a gas discovery on the deepwater LeClerc play-opening well offshore Trinidad and Tobago while the company had been drilling for oil.
Wood Group Mustang was chosen by the Leviathan partners to provide the front-end engineering and design (FEED) work for the Leviathan project’s production platform in a US$120 million deal. Leviathan is inching closer to a final investment decision, after the Israeli partners in the project approved the development plan this month (December).
In October, French oil major Total announced it had made a deepwater oil discovery in the Black Sea, Bulgaria, opening up a new play. The discovery, announced in Total's Q3 results, while unnamed has been identified as the Polshkov-1 well, which the firm started drilling operations on in May using the Noble Globetrotter II drillship.
OE’s editorial staff presents this list of 12 magazine stories from our 2016 archive that were the most read articles this year.
|Total’s Abu Al Bukhoosh (ABK) field offshore Abu Dhabi, UAE. Photo from Total.|
Both maintaining and launching new offshore production is high on the agenda in the Middle East, not least in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Iran. IHS’ Mirzi Moralde outlines current activity in the region.
Despite slower than anticipated demand for well intervention services, service firms are ploughing ahead with new designs and solutions to help operators get more out of their wells. Elaine Maslin highlights some of the activity in the market.
Since its discovery in 2010, the Sea Lion field offshore the Falkland Islands has been subject to a string of development options. Elaine Maslin looks at Premier Oil’s optimized final plan.
This year, Allseas’ Pioneering Spirit mega-vessel is finally due to set out into the seas to perform its first heavy lift. Elaine Maslin provides an update.
Kory Kinney, of IHS, takes a look at some of the projects underway in the US Gulf of Mexico (as of mid-April 2016).
|The drill floor is the heart of the Maersk Valiant. It is from here that the journey towards the oil below the seabed begins. Photos from Maersk Drilling.|
Jerry Lee discovers how Marathon and ConocoPhillips teamed up to drill difficult deepwater wells in the Gulf of Mexico using a custom MPD system onboard the Maersk Valiant drillship.
Floating offshore wind projects are gaining momentum in Europe and elsewhere, including Japan. But, the concepts on offer still vary. Elaine Maslin reports.
Oceaneering’s Justin Pizzitola discusses the use of an open water dual coiled riser based system for rigless stimulation.
Putting the Brent field online in 1976 was a feat. Decommissioning the field’s four massive platforms is equally challenging. Elaine Maslin sets out Shell’s latest plans and how it came to them.
While it seems most Arctic exploration activity has slowed, it really depends on where you look. Bruce McMichael reports.
Mozambique’s emerging LNG business may be picking up after a quiet period. John Sheehan reports on progress made, including Eni’s Coral FLNG project.
After more than three decades’ production, the mighty Murchison platform was finally down-manned this year. Work to dismantle the 25,000-tonne topsides is ongoing. Elaine Maslin reports.