Talk about a big story. In Denver, one giant
talking about other giants drew a giant crowd.
The speaker at the podium was legendary oil finder
Michel T. Halbouty, a giant of the industry who's been a part of
the industry for seven decades, talking about "Giant
Oil and Gas Fields of the Decade -- 1990-2000."
Halbouty's talk marked the start of an invited session
at the AAPG annual meeting that he co-chaired with Jerry Eyer --
and to no one's surprise, the huge ballroom setting at the Colorado
Convention Center was filled to capacity for his presentation.
Nor was there surprise in the end result of his 20-minute
talk: A loud, lengthy standing ovation.
"There have been a total of 583 giant fields discovered
worldwide up to this point," Halbouty said. "This figure includes
the 77 giants found in the past decade ... We should be encouraged
and comforted in the knowledge that giant fields do exist and can
Halbouty's talk took listeners around the world for
a quick, concise report on the location and discovery details of
the past decade's giant oil and gas finds.
He also presented some of the major trends that emerged:
p A clear shift -- sparked by advancing technology
-- toward deep water exploration.
"Seismic surveys have shown that there are large
structures and stratigraphic images in deep water all over the globe,"
Halbouty said. "Very little exploration has been conducted in these
waters -- but it's coming.
"Deep sea drilling is the focus for the future,"
he continued. "In the next 10 years many deep sea fields will be
found in waters of 10,000 feet or more."
- There has been a 53 percent increase in the number of giant
fields during the 40-year period.
- Gas discoveries are increasing at an accelerated rate when
compared to oil discoveries.
- There has been an increase of stratigraphic-controlled traps
as a percentage of all traps.
"Historically, many stratigraphic trap fields were
found accidentally while drilling for a structural objective," Halbouty
said. "Call it blind luck, if you wish -- I am sure the operator
did not care whether or not the structure existed as long as he
had a giant discovery to his credit."
Seismic imaging of stratigraphic trap components
has become a reality, he continued.
"This has led to a major increase of giant field
discoveries with a strong stratigraphic component," he said. "We
believe this trend will continue into the future, tracking the on-going
improvements in seismic technology -- and we can count on a greater
number of stratigraphic giant fields being discovered as a result
of their stratigraphic emplacement as opposed to a strictly structural
Halbouty concluded with the sobering thought that
for every four barrels that the world consumed in the last decade,
the industry found only one new barrel of oil.
Twenty years ago there were 15 oil fields capable
of producing one million barrels of oil per day, he said, but today
there are only four:
- Guwar (Saudi Arabia).
- Kirkuk (Iraq).
- Bergen (Kuwait).
- Canterall (Mexico).
"It really starts blowing your mind when confronted
with information revealing that 90 percent of the current production
comes from fields found more than 20 years ago," he said.
"Many giant fields of the coming decade will be found
in the deep waters offshore of all the continents as our technology
to drill, complete and produce them is already established, but
will be constantly improved with each discovery."
"Without the petroleum industry," he said, "the welfare
of the nation -- and I might add also the world -- would be severely