What’s in a name? Special upstream edition

30 Oct

What do dead cows, Native American warriors and Snow White have in common? At first glance, not much. Yet these are just some of the many random names given to oil and gas fields.

Crazy Horse.jpg

While most exploration and production (upstream) blocks are named after their geographic location, or just assigned a simple serial number, in some cases, geologists and project managers let their imaginations run wild… Below we rank a few of the most surprising examples.

#5: Oil on the dance floor

Kizomba Complex, Angola

Kizomba is a deepwater project located off the coast of Angola in the Atlantic Ocean. Kizomba, its namesake, is actually an authentic Angolan music and dance genre, with a mixture of semba, zouk and merengue elements, usually accompanied by Portuguese lyrics.

#4: Arctic Disneyland

Snohvit field, Norway

Snohvit, a major natural gas field in the Barents Sea, was discovered in 1984. Its name originates from the Norwegian translation of the Grimm brothers’ story, Snow White. The other blocks nearby also seem to be a who’s who of fairy tales: Goliat field (referring to the Biblical story of David v Goliath) and Askeladden field (Askeladden, meaning “ash boy”, is a popular hero of Norwegian folk tales).

Snow White 2.jpg

The new faces of Norwegian upstream. Sources: Norwegian Summer, Disney Wiki, Heatspring

#3: Dead (cash) cow

Vaca Muerta field, Argentina

Vaca Muerta, literally “dead cow”, is perhaps not a very surprising name considering its location in Argentina, one of the world’s leading beef exporters. Vaca Muerta field, though, doesn’t have anything to do with grazing anymore. Instead, it is a supergiant shale oil/shale gas field discovered by Repsol-YPF in 2010-2011. There have been many twists and turns in the story since then: in 2012, the Argentine government expropriated 51% of the ownership of Repsol-YPF. This July, YPF (the Argentine national petroleum company) signed a deal with Chevron on the investment of $1.2bn for developing the high-potential Vaca Muerta project.

#2: Eye of the tiger

Bach Ho field, Vietnam

Bach Ho is a major offshore oil field in the Vietnamese waters of the South China Sea, the country’s largest. Mobil made its first discovery there back in 1975, prior to the fall of Saigon towards the end of the Vietnam War. Due to political reasons, the field was later developed and set into production by Vietsovpetro, the JV between the Vietnamese and Soviet governments. Its name translates to “white tiger” in English, an extremely rare species potentially facing extinction even in its indigenous Southeast Asian homelands. Bach Ho field allegedly inspired the song “The Girl in Byakkoya – White Tiger Field” by Japanese electronic music composer Susumu Hirasawa. So-called “white tiger balm” (known as “Vietnamese balm” in Hungarian) is said to cure all sorts of maladies, from colds and sore throats to abdominal pain and skin problems.

#1: Dark horse

Thunder Horse field, US Gulf of Mexico

Thunder Horse, the name given to an offshore field lying around 240 km southeast of New Orleans in the US Gulf of Mexico, is fairly exotic in itself. But it is actually only the second, politically correct name for the project, and was re-baptized by BP, the operating company, in 2002. It was originally called Crazy Horse, but BP was forced to change this out of respect for the descendants of the legendary Lakota Native American warrior of the same name (and because of a looming lawsuit…). Crazy Horse was the leader of an anti-reservation resistance movement in the late 19th century. According to Lakota customs, it is sacrilegious to use his name outside of a spiritual context. (That said, it isn’t just the oil industry facing lawsuits from Native American interest groups. For example, major US NFL team the Washington Redskins is embroiled in a long-running dispute over claims that the team’s name is racist.)

 Crazy Horse.jpg

Crazy Horse. (Disclaimer: We are of course using this picture within a spiritual context.) Source: Wikipedia

This is just a very arbitrary list of a few of the stranger names given to upstream projects. It would be interesting to find out the origins of some other ones, such as Libya’s Elephant field, the Jubiliee project offshore Ghana, or the Sugar Loaf (Carioca) block in Brazil. The oil industry itself abounds with funny names: consider companies such as Wild Boys Land, Cattle & Oil Co. Ltd. or Honey Bear Petroleum.

And, as always, we are open to our readers’ suggestions…


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One Response to “What’s in a name? Special upstream edition”

  1. alungirea genelor December 12, 2013 at 11:46 pm #

    Thanks a lot for the post.Really looking forward to read more. Really Cool.

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