Annual Sheriff Lecture - University of Houston
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Annual Sheriff Lecture 2013

Annual Sheriff Lecture

November 18th, 2013

Hilton Westchase (Google Map Link)

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Speaker: Cindy Yeilding

Lecture Title: What a difference a few decades makes: Exploration History of the US Gulf of Mexico Deepwater

Faculty and Guest Registration

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About the Speaker: 


Cindy Yeilding

Vice President and Director

Gulf of Mexico Appraisal, BP

Cindy Yeilding earned her MSc from the University of North Carolina after receiving a BS in Geology from SMU. She has worked as an exploration, production, appraisal and well site operations geoscientist and is currently BP's Vice President and Director of Appraisal, Gulf of Mexico . Her most recent roles include Vice President for Exploration for GoM, Chief Geoscientist for the GoM, Global Geoscience Technology and R&D Manager, and she has held numerous other Exploration and Technology leadership positions in the Americas.  

Cindy has developed and led short courses and geological field seminars, chaired numerous technical sessions and presented many technical talks. She has served as an AAPG (American Association of Petroleum Geologists) Distinguished Lecturer and was named a “Legend in Exploration” by AAPG in 2003.  Cindy is also a member of the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) Board of Directors.


About the Lecture:

Exploration in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico has been ongoing since the first successful offshore well in the 1940s. “Deepwater” exploration began in the 1970s, with success in the upper slope Flex Trend in the late 1970s-early 1980s. Industry moved into deepwater water (>1000’) en masse with the 1985 area-wide OCS lease sales. Since 1980, the GoM has produced ~3 mmboe per day and the US Gulf of Mexico currently supplies ~25% of US domestically produced oil. The Deepwater GoM currently contributes over of half of this production.

Early Exploration yielded success in a number of seismic attribute-related upper Miocene and younger discoveries. The second phase of drilling focused on older Miocene stratigraphy, and on testing robust structural culminations, many of which were partially or completely subsalt. Most recent drilling activity has yielded a series of oil discoveries in the Paleogene (Lower Tertiary) strata of the deepwater, and Industry is currently testing the Paleogene play northwards into shallower water.

Technology has played a critical role in the exploration, appraisal and development of these discoveries. Early exploration in the basin was done on sparse 2D seismic, quickly moving into area-wide 3D speculative seismic shoots which collectively span most of the central and western Gulf of Mexico. The century, this geophysical database was refreshed by a new generation of multi-azimuth data which is yielding significant improvements in imaging. Industry and academia continue to drive improvement in seismic acquisition and imaging through very rich azimuth datasets and other innovations.  Drilling, completion and production technologies are continually moving forward, with the GoM playing a significant role in driving deepwater technology development for our “High-Tech” industry.