An oil field is a land area above an underground petroleum reservoir, which is used for oil extraction. As oil is typically found in enclosed spaces, geologically formed thousands and millions years ago deep below the surface of the Earth, searching for and identification of such fields have become crucially important processes for modern economies due to their difficulty and profitability in case of success.
In an economic sense, the term “oil field” implies that the land area to which it refers might be used for commercial purposes, i.e. for oil extraction and then gaining profits from it.
Oil Fields main features
Oil fields are typically large underground areas in the rocky strata of the planet, usually trapped and impenetrable, due to which the liquid fuel has remained untouched and preserved for such a long time. The areas are sometimes interconnected, but not necessarily.
As it has been stated above, specialists refer to oil fields meaning those that are suitable for economic purposes, which means that they contain enough petroleum for their exploration and exploitation being profitable.
Although there exist various oil fields across the globe, most of the biggest and richest of them are located in the Middle East. It’s considered that a notable amount of the yet undiscovered oil fields are situated below the ocean surface.
Most of the known oil is contained within a limited number of oil fields, as more than 90% of discovered petroleum is found in fewer than 2000 oil fields, while their total number is roughly estimated to be about 60000 all over the world.
Importance of Oil Fields
The profitability of finding oil fields is closely connected to the importance of crude oil for the world economy in general, as it is widely used in many production spheres, and is related to others in this way or another. Difficulties associated with exploring oil fields are linked to complicated research and technological work required to get to the material in question, and an estimated size of an explored oil field isn’t always confirmed, so some significant losses might be involved. The process in general is rather expensive, so it’s generally agreed to be a risky business, requiring plenty of resources.
Oil fields locations have often become reasons for geopolitical conflicts throughout the history due to their extreme importance for many spheres.
Difficulties related to Oil fields development
As it is often hard to accurately predict the amount of petroleum in a recently discovered oil field, the main difficulty associated with its development relates to a possible difference between the forecasted productivity of an oil field and its actual productivity.
Oil field development requires a complex system of preparation, which includes geological research, providing heavy machinery and organizing an infrastructure for oil extraction, with all the works often taking place in difficult geological conditions. Such a preparation is a costly venture, and a company organizing it needs an oil field to be productive and profitable. Otherwise, it will incur heavy losses.
Oil companies traditionally have specialized departments for this kind of works, which are focused on preparation for oil field development and later maintaining the equipment there.
The technologies used for oil field exploration and development have recently evolved significantly, which allowed companies to increase their efficiency in oil production. The new technologies recently appeared in the oil industry are presented by such processes as hydraulic drilling and fracturing (the last one also alternatively called "fracking"), alternative ways of drilling (with a horizontal one being the most well-known), using proppant and chemicals, and some others.
The mentioned increase in oil production has subsequently led to more oil being offered on the market. This situation has affected the prices, which declined to some degree. Nowadays, most companies are paying a lot of attention to their technological development to stay in tune with their competitors.