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In December last year BP announced that it was to add a second platform to its Mad Dog field in the Gulf of Mexico with the capacity to produce up to 140,000 gross barrels of crude oil a day. The really showstopping part of the announcement was the expected cost of the development: $9bn, 60 percent less than the cost of almost $22bn announced in 2013.

Projects that were viable when oil prices were up at $100 per barrel do not look attractive now, even with the rising price trend we have seen since OPEC announced it was limiting production in November 2016. The industry has to drive costs lower.

Speaking about the second Mad Dog phase in December 2016, Bob Dudley, BP Group Chief Executive, said: “This announcement shows that big deepwater projects can still be economic in a low-price environment in the USA if they are designed in a smart and cost-effective way.”

Though the 60 percent cost reduction achieved on Mad Dog will not be achievable in every case, most oil and gas companies should be looking for reductions of between 30 and 40 percent. But to achieve this step change in costs requires a change in mindset too.

 

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