ExxonMobil gambles on growth

The Economist - 02-09


OFF THE coast of Guyana, 160km beyond the ramshackle, rainbow-coloured roofs and the sea wall meant to protect the low-lying capital, past the mud flats and into the deep, churning Atlantic, a vast drilling vessel sits almost perfectly still. Thrusters work constantly to keep the boat’s centre within a three-metre radius above a well head on the seabed almost 2km below. Workers fly in and out by helicopter. Some come from Guyana, some America, their rubber-soled boots adorned with cowboy stitching. Once aboard they manage towering drill pipes, guide robots near the ocean floor, monitor storms or perhaps just cook. All these efforts are directed towards a single goal: drilling as effectively as possible, so the ship can move to the next oil well and then the next.