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Feature Reports

The Challenges of Oil and Gas Production

© On board Total's giant FPSO in the Girassol field off the coast of Angola. GONZALEZ THIERRY - TOTAL

The development of an oil or gas field is a long-term undertaking that generally lasts several decades. Development is subject to numerous technical and cost challenges and continues as long as the field is profitable. Offshore development has expanded rapidly over the past few years at greater and greater depths. 

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Oil and gas fields generally have a lifespan ranging from 15 to 30 years, from first oil to abandonment. Production can last 50 years or more for the largest deposits. Deepwater fields, however, are operated just five to ten years due the very high extraction costs.  

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Offshore oilDescribes crude oil produced offshore, either in shallow water (depths up to 700 meters) using standard methods, or in deep water... and gas production, which involves extracting oil and gas from beneath the sea, is a critical component of the world's energy supply. It requires the use of increasingly sophisticated technology and ever greater attention to the related environmental impacts.

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After the various exploration stages (see Close-up: "Exploration, a Multi-Stage Process"), further studies are carried out to determine a field’s long-term profitability, the recommended number and type of wells, and the most suitable installations. Extraction can then begin, either through primary recovery (also known as natural depletionIn the oil industry, depletion corresponds to the gradual decline in production from an oil or gas well...), or using enhanced recovery techniques.

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