September 2023

First oil

Industry optimism shows up at OE and WPC
Kurt Abraham / World Oil

As many of you know, September and October are prime months for industry conferences and exhibitions. And now that we’re mostly past the Covid period, this year is no exception. This editor had a chance to take the pulse of industry professionals at two large events in particular—Offshore Europe in Aberdeen, Scotland, and World Petroleum Congress 2023 in Calgary, Alberta. What this editor found was a genuine pattern of optimism and enthusiasm among most attendees. In other words, the industry has rediscovered its “can do” attitude.

Offshore Europe. More than 800 exhibitors and almost 30,000 attendees celebrated the 50th anniversary edition of OE at P&J Live, Aberdeen, during Sept. 5-8. SPE declared that “organizers have hailed the first face-to-face SPE Offshore Europe in four years a resounding success.”

Indeed, for the first time in several years, both the UK and Scottish governments were represented by their respective energy ministers addressing attendees with supportive keynote speeches. But the enthusiasm extended far beyond those conference sessions and out onto the exhibition floor. No doubt, everyone’s attitude was bolstered by oil prices in excess of $80/bbl. And it didn’t hurt that the exhibition, and some conference sessions, incorporated a great deal about offshore wind, as well as CCS. In other words, there was something for everybody. Then again, some folks were just happy to resume an event that hadn’t happened in four years.

“A lot has changed since the last face-to-face SPE Offshore Europe in 2019, but the energy, excitement and enthusiasm to learn, share and move towards a new energy future were palpable on the show floor and the conference,” said Jonathan Heastie, Portfolio Director – Energy & Marine at RX, co-organizer with SPE for OE.

World Petroleum Congress 2023. Much like OE in Aberdeen, WPC in Calgary exuded much optimism and enthusiasm. According to show organizers, the 24th WPC saw over 10,000 unique visitors to the exhibition, over 5,000 delegates in attendance at the Congress, and registrants from 111 countries. It also was infused with a number of conference themes, including Energy Transition, Net Zero and CCUS.

Fig. 1. Saudi Aramco President & CEO Amin Nasser addresses the 24th World Petroleum Congress. Image: WPC

The show opened on Sept. 18 with a memorable “dialogue” session with HRH Prince Abdulaziz Bin Salman Al Saud, the Saudi Arabian Minister of Energy. This was followed by the awarding of the WPC Dewhurst Award to Saudi Aramco President & CEO Amin Nasser. After receiving his award, Nasser delivered a very focused speech to attendees, where he stressed that the Energy Transition cannot be done overnight, is going to cost a lot of money, and oil and gas will have to be a large part of the energy mix for quite some time to come. In this editor’s  humble opinion, Nasser was the star of this year’s WPC. He spoke with authority, assurance and a noticeably good grasp of the facts and data.

One of WPC’s highlights was the strength of its speaker panels. The program included seven plenary sessions, daily luncheon panels, ministerial sessions with global participation, CEO strategic sessions and technical forums, with government representatives, CEOs, academics and more from around the world. “The 24th WPC has been an incredible success,” said Denis Painchaud, President & CEO, The Organizing Committee for Canada. “We hit all our topline numbers and have received incredibly positive feedback about the overall experience from participants.”

Our mid-year forecast is mostly optimistic. As you look through this issue, you will see our annual mid-year forecast. To summarize its findings, our research and data show that the U.S. is not likely to have a net increase in drilling during second-half 2023. Then again, we’re not looking for much of a decline, either. In fact, part of our projections is based on the belief that there will be a mild pick-up in U.S. drilling during fourth-quarter 2023. Meanwhile, you will see that we are calling for a very solid year of drilling and development across much of the globe outside the U.S., with the offshore sector performing particularly well.

Some of the highlights of our forecast are the following:

  • U.S. drilling will decline 2.2% from first-half 2023 to second-half 2023; however, most regions will have small increases in the second half, but they will be cancelled out by a 9.6% decline in Texas.
  • Not only will U.S. drilling decline in the second half of 2023, the well total for the year will be 319 wells fewer than the 2022 total, or 1.7% less.
  • Canadian drilling will see its best year since 2018, totaling 6,200 wells, or 10.2% higher than 2022’s level.
  • International drilling outside the U.S. will total 42,696 wells in 2023, up 6.6% from 2022’s total of 40,066. And the 2022 figure had been up 10.1% from 2021’s level.
  • Global crude and condensate production averaged 81.028 MMbpd, up an impressive 5.4% from the 2021 figure.

We encourage you to examine all the details in the U.S., Canadian and International forecast articles in this issue!

25 myths in the media's Idalia coverage. As many of you in the U.S. will remember, Hurricane Idalia was a powerful, destructive storm that caused significant damage across parts of the southeastern United States, especially in northern Florida, during late August. At one point, while still offshore, it was a Category 4 hurricane.

That having been said, one could not help noticing that many of the weather professionals tracking the storm on television seemed to be blaming every little facet of the storm on climate change and/or manmade factors. This trend did not escape the attention of fossil fuel advocate Alex Epstein, who speaks regularly to industry groups and maintains his “Energy Talking Points” website. It inspired him to compile his “25 myths in the media’s Idalia coverage.” We bring you the first 13 of these myths now, and will offer the remaining 12 in our October issue:

Myth 1: The world is experiencing unprecedented danger from extreme weather thanks to fossil fuels (FFs).

Truth: The world is experiencing unprecedented safety from extreme weather thanks to FFs—because FFs' climate mastery benefits overwhelm any negative climate side-effects.

Myth 2: The media and its designated experts are accurately reporting on fossil fuels and extreme weather.

Truth: The media and its “experts” are:

  1. Totally ignoring how fossil fuels make us safer than ever from extreme weather
  2. Wildly overstating fossil fuels' negative impact on weather.

Myth 3: The effect of fossil fuels on extreme weather danger is solely negative.

Truth: Not only can warming from fossil fuels have significant benefits (fewer cold deaths) but the low-cost energy that fossil fuels provide for billions gives us an unprecedented ability to master extreme weather.

Myth 4: We don't need fossil fuels to protect ourselves from extreme weather—we can just use alternatives.

Truth: As Europe is illustrating, there is no near-term replacement for fossil fuels for the 1/4 of the world that uses abundant energy—let alone the 3/4 of the world that doesn't.

Myth 5: The media and its designated experts are accurately reporting the scientific linking of fossil fuel use and hurricanes.

Truth: This “reporting” is riddled with:

  1. deliberate misrepresentations (e.g., hurricane frequency)
  2. biases (e.g., only reporting negative links).

Myth 6: Media claims about increasing hurricane frequency are accurate.

Truth: Leading media outlets have deliberately misrepresented the flat long-term hurricane trend. 

Myth 7: Hurricanes are expected to get more frequent as temperatures rise.

Truth: Mainstream science expects that hurricanes will become less frequent as temperatures rise.

Myth 8: Hurricane intensity is expected to get catastrophically higher as temperatures rise.

Truth: Mainstream estimates say hurricanes will be less frequent and between 1-10% more intense.

Myth 9: Media-cited research on extreme weather is unbiased.

Truth: Extreme weather research is riddled with biases. In addition to ignoring fossil-fueled climate mastery, many researchers have overtly political motives.

Myth 10: Climate researchers have no political bias.

Truth: Certain climate attribution “scientists” admit that they are motivated by political goals and shape their “science” accordingly. 

Myth 11: Extreme weather “attribution” researchers are simply trying to understand extreme weather and have found fossil fuels guilty.

Truth: Extreme weather “attribution” only looks for negative impacts of fossil fuels on extreme weather, brazenly ignoring any avoided negative impacts.

Myth 12: Attributions of X% of an extreme weather event to humans are credible.

Truth: Not only are many attributors clearly biased, but no precise estimate of this kind is possible, given today’s climate modeling limits, where mainstream models hugely diverge from one another.


Myth 13: Fossil fuels made Hurricane Idalia worse for Florida.

Truth: While we can’t know exactly how Idalia was different because of human climate impacts, we know that without fossil fuels, Florida would be a third-world place that Idalia would have utterly devastated.

Bidding a great retirement to an old friend. During Offshore Europe, I had a chance to visit with Steve Gibb, Balmoral’s Group Public Relations Manager, at the company’s stand during Offshore Europe, Fig. 2. In the course of talking about the latest innovations at Balmoral, he let it be known that his last day at the firm before retirement would be Sept. 14. Accordingly, we asked him to provide us with a few final career thoughts, as follows:

Fig. 2. Recently retired Balmoral Group Public Relations Manager Steve Gibb visited with Aberdeen Lord Provost David Cameron (center) and World Oil Editor-in-Chief Kurt Abraham at Offshore Europe

“It has been an enormous pleasure and privilege to have been a part of this fantastic industry for almost 40 years and to have worked with such a progressive and innovative company such as Balmoral,” said Gibb. “There have been many changes in the sector over those decades, and the energy transition that’s taking place now is the latest revolution for the industry and everyone involved in it.

“I’ve been fortunate to have met scores of wonderful, creative and clever people in my career,” continued Gibb, “and I will be sorry not to have regular contact with them but, naturally, I will be maintaining contact with those good friends I have made over the years. So, it’s cheerio for now but not farewell and thanks for the memories, y’all!”

And to you, Steve Gibb, we wish you great health and happiness in retirement and best wishes for whatever activities you may pursue!


Special focus: Upstream Practices. Among the features in our lead theme is a discussion from an author at the Project Production Institute about how a novel approach to engineering for upstream projects is producing significantly better outcomes. The innovative techniques are focusing more attention on the design and effective control of engineering workflows to reduce NPT and lower costs. Another feature from an author at UAE-based Viking Completion Technology details the firm’s unique approach to well completion projects. Viking’s bespoke approach leads to successful full service well completions. Finally, several authors from 4Subsea and Shell describe how a digital twin mitigated the recovery risk of a damaged riser offshore Brazil. They said that as the oil and gas industry strives to cut costs, improve efficiency and reinforce its role in the energy transition, the use of digital twins is becoming more evident in the race to digitize and decarbonize the sector.

Global Mid-year Forecast: International and offshore sectors carry the day. Although oil prices are well above $80 at present, U.S. drilling activity has muddled along for much of the year for a variety of reasons. The outlook for second-half 2023 is a sideways movement in the U.S., in contrast to other regions. In Canada, E&P activity is poised to have its best year since 2018. Operators want do drill wells and develop fields: the only question is how much the federal government wants to get in the way. Outside North America, drilling should continue the robust recovery that began in 2022. Offshore projects, in particular, will thrive.

FPSO Technology: Accelerating FPSO performance evolution. Authors from SLB and Rockwell describe how an open collaboration and digitalization initiative is working to optimize FPSO production throughput and ensure equipment uptime, while reducing carbon footprint at scale. A coalition of SLB, Rockwell Automation, Sensia, and Cognite is open to collaboration with any and all FPSO players and to using the most appropriate technology, instead of limiting selection to a closed catalog, particularly in regard to digital ecosystems.

About the Authors
Kurt Abraham
World Oil
Kurt Abraham
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