A new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) revealed that global offshore oil production from deepwater projects reached 9.3 million bpd in 2015, a 25% increase from 7 million bpd a decade ago.
The EIA considered only deepwater production (depths greater than 125 meters) and included lease condensate and hydrocarbon gas liquids.
Although shallow water has been relatively less expensive and less technically challenging for operators to explore and drill, the EIA said, changing economics and the exhaustion of some shallow offshore resources has helped to push producers to deepwater or, in some areas, ultra deepwater (depths of 1,500 meters or more) resources.
The agency reported that the share of offshore production from shallow water in 2015 was 64%, the lowest on record.
Globally, offshore oil production accounted for about 30% of total oil production over the past decade. In 2015, offshore production was 29% of total global production, decreasing slightly from 32% in 2005.
According to the EIA, previously unreachable prospects have become viable due to advances in drilling technology, dynamic positioning equipment, and floating production and drilling units. While improved technology has made more areas accessible, financial and time investments on deepwater projects remain greater than for those in shallow water or on land.
As a result, most nations with offshore assets operate only in shallow water, the EIA said, but in areas with deepwater operations, production has grown significantly, and in many cases overtaken shallow-water production.
EIA research showed that the majority of deepwater or ultra deepwater production occurs in four countries: Brazil, the U.S., Angola, and Norway. Each of these countries has realized an increasing share of crude oil production from deepwater or ultra deepwater projects over the previous decade. The United States and Brazil together account for more than 90% of global ultra deepwater production, with ultra deepwater production expected to increase in 2016 and 2017 in both countries.