There is no arguing that the Macondo blowout and explosion in 2010 was a game changer for the oil and gas offshore industry. Besides claiming the lives of eleven workers and costing BP billions of dollars in penalties, legal costs and cleanup costs, the Macondo incident in many ways renewed doubts in the oil and gas industry as to its ability to explore and drill in a safe, environmentally conscious way. Moreover, it prompted renewed focus inthe supervisory role of government regulators across the globe.
With that in mind, an interesting question to ask is, how has the industry changed four years after the Macondo blowout, and a similar question, what will the continued rippling effect be like as a result of Macondo, say five or ten years out from now. One of the many things that Macondo reinforced to those in the industry was the need for improved technology in well containment and capping. After all, it took several failed capping attempts beforeMacondo was fully contained, and in the end, it took months before Macondo could be considered completely dead.
Now efforts to advance well-capping technology post-Macondo have been made, but as Blair MacDougall, a Canadian oil and gas consultant, points out, further advancements are needed. Blair MacDougall is the founder and senior director of Waterford Energy Services Inc. (WESI), a Canadian-based oil and gas consulting firm that provides consultants to large oil and gas operators. With close to twenty years in the oil and gas industry and over ten years of experience in managing WESI, MacDougall offers keen insight on the current trends in the industry and what the future holds for the business.
In particular, MacDougall points to a continued need for oil and gas operators to have access to the most experienced and knowledgeable engineers and project managers in the business.
“The reality is for operators the level of difficulty to achieve results will only increase in the future,” says Blair MacDougall.“Regulatory and NGO pressures on operators will continue,if not heighten in force; the difficulty level of exploration efforts will continue to increase; and in the next ten or twenty years, drilling activities will befocused in more environmentally rigorous conditions.”
Blair MacDougall specifically points to the Arctic as a frontier that will be opening to greater exploration and drilling activity in the next five to ten years.“It will be tremendously exciting to see what develops [in the Artic region] in the next half decade or so,” comments MacDougall.“There is certainly drilling potential in theArctic; but the environmental challenges that the area will present to operators will certainly be difficult. WESI hopes to be a key participant in these future activities to ensure that environmental impact will be negligible.”
Higher environmental and regulatory standards, increased difficulty as far as exploration and drilling, operations that will continue to be executed in harsh environments – all these reasons and more are what convince MacDougall that consultants and knowledge experts working in the offshore industry will remain highly sought-after by operators for many years to come.
“I’m fully confident that the oil and gas consulting industry will remain vibrant well into the future,” adds Blair MacDougall.“This is a knowledge and experienced-based business, plain and simple. And operators need the engineering and mechanical expertise of industry consultants. What’s more, the well projects operators take on often need a variety of industry perspectives, which outside consultants can provide.”