Chevron has commenced crude oil and natural gas production from the Big Foot project, a deepwater project developed with an investment of around $4bn in the US Gulf of Mexico.
Contained in the Walker Ridge Block 29, the Big Foot project is located nearly 360km south of New Orleans, Louisiana.
Discovered in 2006, the Big Foot field is estimated to hold total recoverable resources of over 200 million oil-equivalent barrels. The discovery was made by the drilling of the Big Foot No. 2 well, using the Cajun Express semi-submersible rig, to a depth of 1,524m where it had intersected more than 91m of net oil pay.
Contained in a water depth of around 5,200ft, the Big Foot field has an estimated production life of 35 years.
According to Chevron, the Big Foot project employs a 15-slot drilling and production tension-leg platform, which has been designed to draw 75,000 barrels of oil and 25 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.
The Big Foot tension leg platform supports an onboard, full-capacity drilling rig to carry out development well drilling and interventions in the future. The project’s production wells are equipped with electric submersible pumps at a depth of 4,876m.
Chevron, through its subsidiary Chevron U.S.A. is the operator of the deepwater Gulf of Mexico project with a stake of 60%. Its partners in the Big Foot field are Equinor Gulf of Mexico and Marubeni Oil & Gas (USA) with stakes of 27.5% and 12.5%, respectively.
Chevron North America exploration and production president Jeff Shellebarger said: “The Big Foot project strengthens Chevron’s deepwater portfolio and further demonstrates that the Gulf of Mexico is an integral part of our diverse global portfolio and long-term strategy.
“The project advances our interest in safely providing reliable, affordable energy to meet a growing global demand.”
Recently, Chevron alongside Royal Dutch Shell was awarded rights for the Saturno block in the Santos Basin, offshore Brazil during the country’s pre-salt oil auction. The company and Shell will hold a stake of 50% each in the offshore block through their respective Brazilian subsidiaries.
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Headline crude prices for the week beginning 11 February 2019 – Brent: US$61/b; WTI: US$52/b
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Midstream & Downstream
Global liquid fuels
Electricity, coal, renewables, and emissions
2018 was a year that started with crude prices at US$62/b and ended at US$46/b. In between those two points, prices had gently risen up to peak of US$80/b as the oil world worried about the impact of new American sanctions on Iran in September before crashing down in the last two months on a rising tide of American production. What did that mean for the financial health of the industry over the last quarter and last year?
Nothing negative, it appears. With the last of the financial results from supermajors released, the world’s largest oil firms reported strong profits for Q418 and blockbuster profits for the full year 2018. Despite the blip in prices, the efforts of the supermajors – along with the rest of the industry – to keep costs in check after being burnt by the 2015 crash has paid off.
ExxonMobil, for example, may have missed analyst expectations for 4Q18 revenue at US$71.9 billion, but reported a better-than-expected net profit of US$6 billion. The latter was down 28% y-o-y, but the Q417 figure included a one-off benefit related to then-implemented US tax reform. Full year net profit was even better – up 5.7% to US$20.8 billion as upstream production rose to 4.01 mmboe/d – allowing ExxonMobil to come close to reclaiming its title of the world’s most profitable oil company.
But for now, that title is still held by Shell, which managed to eclipse ExxonMobil with full year net profits of US$21.4 billion. That’s the best annual results for the Anglo-Dutch firm since 2014; product of the deep and painful cost-cutting measures implemented after. Shell’s gamble in purchasing the BG Group for US$53 billion – which sparked a spat of asset sales to pare down debt – has paid off, with contributions from LNG trading named as a strong contributor to financial performance. Shell’s upstream output for 2018 came in at 3.78 mmb/d and the company is also looking to follow in the footsteps of ExxonMobil, Chevron and BP in the Permian, where it admits its footprint is currently ‘a bit small’.
Shell’s fellow British firm BP also reported its highest profits since 2014, doubling its net profits for the full year 2018 on a 65% jump in 4Q18 profits. It completes a long recovery for the firm, which has struggled since the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010, allowing it to focus on the future – specifically US shale through the recent US$10.5 billion purchase of BHP’s Permian assets. Chevron, too, is focusing on onshore shale, as surging Permian output drove full year net profit up by 60.8% and 4Q18 net profit up by 19.9%. Chevron is also increasingly focusing on vertical integration again – to capture the full value of surging Texas crude by expanding its refining facilities in Texas, just as ExxonMobil is doing in Beaumont. French major Total’s figures may have been less impressive in percentage terms – but that it is coming from a higher 2017 base, when it outperformed its bigger supermajor cousins.
So, despite the year ending with crude prices in the doldrums, 2018 seems to be proof of Big Oil’s ability to better weather price downturns after years of discipline. Some of the control is loosening – major upstream investments have either been sanctioned or planned since 2018 – but there is still enough restraint left over to keep the oil industry in the black when trends turn sour.
Supermajor Net Profits for 4Q18 and 2018
- 4Q18 – Net profit US$6 billion (-28%);
- 2018 – Net profit US$20.8 (+5.7%)
- 4Q18 – Net profit US$5.69 billion (+32.3%);
- 2018 – Net profit US$21.4 billion (+36%)
- 4Q18 – Net profit US$3.73 billion (+19.9%);
- 2018 – Net profit US$14.8 billion (+60.8%)
- 4Q18 – Net profit US$3.48 billion (+65%);
- 2018 - Net profit US$12.7 billion (+105%)
- 4Q18 – Net profit US$3.88 billion (+16%);
- 2018 - Net profit US$13.6 billion (+28%)