Operations moving further offshoreOffshore operations continue to move further from the coast and in deeper waters as energy companies attempt to avoid operating in high geopolitical risk areas like the Middle East and Africa, the Christian Science Monitor recently reported. However, the farther these companies move offshore, and the deeper the water,athe higher operating costs become. Drilling operations in water more than 7,000-feet deep can cost an average of $500,000 per day. Projects in shallower water cost $300,000 to $400,000 per day, according to the source. Major offshore oil fields For the U.S., the Gulf of Mexico serves as a major source of domestic oil. Eighty percent of domestic oil production comes from deepwater wells in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Internationally, more than 70 percent of major oil discoveries have been in deepwater since 2007. Today, the three largest offshore oil fields are located off the coasts of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to Forbes. Safaniyaaoil field — 36 billion barrels of recoverable oil The world's largest offshore oil field is located 165 miles north of Dharan, Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf. Of itsa50 billion barrels of oil, 36 billion are believed to be recoverable, according to Forbes. The field wasadiscovered in 1951aand is owned and operated by state-owned Saudi Arabian Oil Co. The company is also the world's biggest oil producer, with 260 billion barrels of oil reserves in 2012. The Safaniya field's production capacity can reach as high as 1.5 million barrels of heavy crude per day, OffshoreTechnology.com reported. It has reservoir ranges between 4,000 feet and 7,000 feet. Upper Zakum oil field — 21 billion barrels of recoverable oil This offshore field is also located in the Persian Gulf and owned byaAbu Dhabi National Oil Company, ExxonMobile (NYSE:EOM) and Japan Oil Development Company. The companies have a 60 percent, 28 percent and 12 percent stake, respectively, in the field.
The field is located 50 miles northwest of the UAE and was discovered in 1963. It was brought on stream five years later and is currently producing 500,000 barrels of crude per day.Manifa oil field — 13 billion barrels of recoverable oil Also located in the Persian Gulf, the field was discovered in 1957 and is located off the coast of Saudi Arabia. It has a daily capacity of 200,000 barrels of oil. The Saudi Arabian Oil Co. began operating in the field in 2012. The company has 13 drilling platforms in the field and by 2014, when the field is expected to be fully operational, it will likely producea900,000 barrels per day, according to the company. TheaKashagan Oil Field in the Caspian Sea and the Lula Oil Field in the Santos Basin of Brazil in the south Atlantic Ocean round out the top five largest offshore oil fields in the world. Offshore Oil Drilling: An Introduction from Oil Investing News