Tuna, Berkut, Kearl… Oil and gas projects often have colorful and seemingly random names. While industry regulators use little more than numbers to label the blocks they lease to energy companies, oil and gas producers are decidedly more creative in their naming conventions
In southeastern Australia, the giant offshore natural gas field is called “KTT,” an acronym for Kipper, Tuna and Turrum. Each of the fields has ichthyoid—i.e., “fishy”—names. That makes sense since the field is located in the Bass Strait.
At Sakhalin, in Far East Russia, ExxonMobil and its partners operate a number of production and drilling platforms. The most recent to start production was Berkut—Russian for “golden eagle”—one of the world’s largest offshore production facilities. The rig that has drilled many of the wells on Sakhalin is named Yastreb, which means “hawk.”
Project names are also inventive offshore the United States in the Gulf of Mexico. ExxonMobil, for instance, has interests in offshore fields named after Roman emperors Hadrian and Lucius.
Other energy companies have gone much further in routinely pushing the envelope when it comes to naming their discoveries. One company named a deep-water field “Bluto” after John Belushi’s character in the movie Animal House. This led another company to name its own field “Son of Bluto.” Not to be outdone, yet another company named its 2003 discovery “Spiderman.” Other names for Gulf fields include “Genghis Khan,” “Popeye” and “Mad Dog.” And don’t forget “Who Dat”—the field’s discoverers are big New Orleans Saints fans.
Ultimately, the more eccentric monikers have a certain charm. Naming fields is a perk reserved for the geologists and scientists who make a big find, not the marketing department. Curious names bring a touch of whimsy to an industry that must adhere to strict rules and procedures to safely operate billion-dollar assets in often-challenging conditions.