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The Offshore Research Portfolio is a suite of projects that focuses on innovative solutions to solve the challenges associated with geohazard prediction, subsurface uncertainty reduction, and oil and gas infrastructure integrity and optimization for new and existing infrastructure systems.

These technologies and advances reduce the likelihood, and prevent impacts from, damaging events associated with offshore oil and gas drilling and production, while improving the economic potential of these domestic resources.

See Latest Offshore Projects

Infrastructure is key to all phases of offshore operations—spanning exploration and production through distribution.  Offshore facilities and infrastructure in federal waters span the sea surface to the subsurface including more than:

  • 5,300 miles of pipelines,

  • 7,100 risers and platforms,

  • 120,000 wellbores, and

  • subsea installations.

They are exposed to some of the deepest, hottest, and chemically challenging geologic conditions on the planet.

Current research projects within the portfolio focus on spill prevention by:

  • Improving the ability to predict geologic hazards by identifying subsurface issues early, with greater accuracy, and with faster response time using geohazard identification, mapping, and data modeling tools.

  • Preparing for potential offshore incidents by managing and minimizing risks during drilling and production operations from topside to seafloor through a better understanding of the performance of materials, such as metals and cement, under extreme conditions.

  • Minimizing drilling risks to prevent catastrophic offshore incidents and loss of life by developing new models and technologies to increase understanding of the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic, and Pacific ultra-deepwater risks.

670,000+ wells expected to be drilled through 2020

*Sources: Cook, Douglas-Westwood, 2014

Offshore oil & gas production is key to meeting global and domestic demand. Globally, offshore drilling accounts for less than 5% of the world’s wells, yet accounts for nearly 30% of total global oil production.

And, as new offshore discoveries come online, the volume of domestic production from the Gulf of Mexico is forecast to increase significantly in the near term.* 

In response to this increase in production, NETL researchers are developing technologies and advanced analytics to equip oil and gas decision makers with tools and data they need to reduce costs and reduce risk.

NETL is Using Advanced Spatio-Temporal Analytics, Big Data Computing, and Machine Learning to Predict, Prepare, and Prevent Offshore Costs and Risk


Preventing Spills

Even relatively small oil spills can cause major harm, depending on the location, season, environmental sensitivity, and type of oil. To help improve oil spill prevention efforts, the oil and gas industry needs intelligent, data-driven, science-based solutions.

The Offshore Research Portfolio specifically conducts research that is used to predict, prepare, and prevent offshore spills, addressing subsurface challenges, drilling and completion operational challenges, surface systems and facility challenges, and subsea systems reliability and automation challenges.

Where many R&D projects are focused solely on spill response, NETL’s Offshore Research Portfolio projects seek to provide spill prevention solutions, seeking to eliminate environmental and economic issues before they occur.

Cost & Risk

Reducing Cost & Risk

Exploratory drilling is one of the riskiest, costliest, and most prospective types of oil and gas operations. Deepwater production, or production in water of depths greater than 125 meters, has increased 25% from nearly 7 million barrels per day a decade ago.

The Offshore Research Portfolio develops technologies and public information that can be used to assess and mitigate risks and costs associated with offshore oil spills before and during drilling and production operations and for decades after when wells are plugged and abandoned.

Drilling at these extreme temperatures and pressures requires advanced materials, and knowledge of how these materials perform under extreme conditions.

Keeping People &
the Environment Safe

Keeping People & the Environment Safe

Keeping people and the environment safe from offshore oil spills is fundamental to our research. Researchers are developing advanced Offshore Risk Modeling tools and models to assess trends associated with simulated oil spills and the potential social, economic, and environment impacts they could pose.

The Offshore Research Portfolio develops and demonstrates innovative technologies to provide industry and regulators fresh insights that enhance and establish new practices, policies, and regulations to improve safety, mitigate geohazards, minimize equipment failure, reduce costs, and prevent future spills—keeping people and the environment safe.

Understanding potential impacts helps oil and gas decisionmakers make safe, intelligent, and informed decisions associated with oil extraction and production.

Learn More About Recent Projects