Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Going deep: Offshore pipeline and challenges in the oil and gas industry

The offshore pipeline industry has long been trailing a maze of challenges since its vibrant growth in the ‘70s. The subsequent discovery of gas fields during the North Sea offshore exploration spawned a new need for large, long-distance pipelines that will transport oil and natural gas across the continents. While the North Sea experience marked a new development in the oil and gas industry, the harsh climate and deep, hostile sea conditions in various discovered oil and gas sources eventually inspired a new innovation: deepwater pipeline technology.

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Amidst today’s growing demand for oil and gas, the petroleum industry scrambles to find new areas for explorations. While predictions on the depletion of oil sources keep cropping up in various influential circles, the other half-truth centers on the contention that the only reason for such fear is the growing inability to tap other sources within dangerous environments. Beneath the facades of all opinions, the main locus of issue actually slides down to the subject of keeping up with the challenges posed by hostile environments where rich sources of gas and oil can be found. The matter calls for two things: a new technology or an innovative improvement of an existing technology like offshore pipelines.

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Offshore pipeline technology has evolved. It continues even up to this day. Nevertheless, given today’s collective sight on the Arctic as the potential source of oil and gas, offshore pipeline engineering faces a greater challenge; maybe even bigger in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.

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The question for now does not rest on whether offshore pipeline development can be carried out; it’s whether those people involved can do it safely and thoroughly.

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