Decline in the global conventional oil reserves coupled with ever increasing demand for conventional hydrocarbons especially in emerging markets of Asia Pacific and Latin America is driving demand for exploring hydrocarbon reserves in deep sea. According to EIA estimates more than 11% of the proven global oil and gas reserves are deepwater (depts. more than 1000 ft.) reservoirs. Global deepwater hydrocarbon exploration market may be broadly segmented on the basis of type of service namely deepwater exploration, drilling and deepwater hydrocarbon production. On the basis of depth of exploration the market may be segmented as deep water and ultra deep water. Also the industry may be segmented on the basis of the type of drilling platforms employed namely fixed platform rig, compliant tower rigs, jack-up rig, subsea systems and spar platforms.
Deepwater hydrocarbon exploration market is poised to witness significant growth in the next few years owing to the ever rising demand for conventional hydrocarbons (such as crude oil and natural gas) especially in emerging markets of Asia Pacific and Latin America. The market growth was previously constrained by the capital expenditure, high cost of exploration, negative profit margin and the underdeveloped technologies. However, the market gained significant insight in the last decade owing to increasing crude oil prices which led to economical feasibility of deepsea drilling and was further supported by technological advancement in the field of deepwater and ultra deepsea drilling and exploration. Increasing number of industry participants shifting their focus to venture the unexplored deepwater and ultradeep hydrocarbon traps have further boosted the market growth and the trend is anticipated to continue over the next several years. Increasing awareness and requirement for apposite regulatory framework is expected to further support the market growth for next six years. The market growth may be restrained owing to increasing environmental and HSE regulations for oil and gas exploration and drilling activities in order to limit the carbon footprint. Additionally, increasing demand for renewable and sustainable energy resources may further hamper the market growth in next few years. Technological advancements for exploring other unconventional hydrocarbon deepwater sources coupled with increased R & D activities may create new opportunities for the market players.
North America is the largest regional market for deepwater hydrocarbon exploration market. Majority of deepsea activities in last few years have been identified in Gulf of Mexico and North Sea Regions. North America was followed by Latin America owing to discovery of large hydrocarbon reserves in Brazilian and Venezuela offshore. Majority of the deepwater activities are expected to be centred in the ‘Deepwater Triangle’ which includes Latin America, Gulf of Mexico and Western Africa. Asia Pacific and Europe are one of the fastest growing regional markets for deepwater hydrocarbon exploration market for the forecast period. Middle East region has been identified to have significant deepsea reserves and immense potential in the near future. The global market for deepwater hydrocarbon exploration was dominated by few major oil and gas companies that include Schlumberger Ltd, Oceaneering International Inc., Transocean Ltd, PetroBras, Trico Marine Services Inc and Brazilian Petroleum Corporation.