Four Deepwater Platforms Readied For Gulf Of Mexico Operations

April 2013, Vol. 240 No. 4

Rita Tubb, Executive Editor

With federal Gulf of Mexico production projected to increase in 2014, averaging 1.45 MMbpd, operators are readying four deepwater facilities for installation in the area to develop reserves in challenging areas.

Chevron’s Jack/St. Malo Semi-submersible
Chevron’s semi-submersible drilling and production platform is being readied for development of the Jack/St. Malo fields, located within 25 miles of each other 280 miles south of New Orleans in water depth of 7,000 feet. The initial development project will require an investment of $7.5 billion. It will be comprised of three subsea centers tied back to a hub production facility with a capacity of 170,000 of oil and 42.4 MMcf/d of natural gas.

The hull for the platform, constructed by Samsung Heavy Industries’ in Geoje, South Korea, departed the yard in early February after being floated onto Dockside’s heavy lift transport vessel Vanguard. The massive hull is due to arrive at the Kiewit Offshore Services Ltd.’s yard in Ingleside, TX where the topside modules are being constructed. Following lift and installation of topside modules, the platform is scheduled to be installed in the Gulf later this year.

Chevron holds a 50% stake in Jack, 51% in St. Malo and a 50.67% in host facilities. Partner Statoil has a 25% interest in Jack and 21.5% in St. Malo. Other partners include Petrobras, ExxonMobil and ENI. First production is scheduled in 2014.

Chevron’s Big Foot
Chevron is also pursuing its Big Foot field development, considered to be among the largest and deepest oil discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico. The field is located on Walker Ridge Block 29, 225 miles south of New Orleans in 5,000 feet of water. Recoverable field reserves are estimated in excess of 200 MMboe.

Chevron is developing the field with an extended TLP using dry trees and an onboard drilling rig. The facility will have a production capacity of 75,000 bopd of oil and 25 MMcf/d natural gas.

As of this writing, Chevron’s Big Foot TLP hull was en route from Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering’s South Korea yard to Gulf Marine Fabricator’s yard in Aransas Pass, TX aboard the Dockwise heavy lift vessel, Mighty Servant 1.

Once the hull arrives, Gulf Marine’s crews plan to begin topside module installations in May. First production from the Big Foot field is scheduled in 2014. Chevron will serve as operator of Big Foot with a 60% interest on behalf of partners Statoil (27.5%) and Marubeni (12.5%).

Gas production from both Chevron’s Jack/St. Malo and Big Foot fields will be sent to shore through Enbridge’s $500 million Walker Ridge Gathering System. The 190-mile pipeline, at depths of up to 7,000 feet, will have a capacity of 100 MMcf/d.

Enbridge also contracted with Chevron, Statoil and Marubeni Oil & Gas to construct and operate a $250 million oil pipeline for the Big Foot development. The 40 mile, 20-inch oil pipeline, at depths of up to 5,900 feet, will have capacity to transport up to 100,000 bpd. Big Foot will deliver to a subsea connection on an existing deepwater pipeline infrastructure.
Technip was awarded a contract by Enbridge covering the engineering, fabrication, and installation of the steel catenary risers and pipelines as well as the installation of subsea equipment. Installation is scheduled for later this year using the Deep Blue pipelay vessel.

Shell’s Olympus TLP
Shell’s latest effort in the Gulf is the Mars B development – the first project of its kind to expand an existing deep water Gulf of Mexico oil field. A combination of factors produced this growth, including improved understanding of the reservoir and recovery potential due to advanced seismic and modeling technologies, and new discoveries in the Mars Field.

The Mars Field, owned by Shell (71.5%) and BP (28.5%), and operated by Shell, was discovered in 1989 and brought onto production in 1996. The site for the Olympus TLP, known as the Mars B development, is located about 130 miles south of New Orleans in the Mississippi Canyon Block leasing area in 3,000 feet of water.

The Olympus TLP, with 24 well slots and a self-contained drilling rig; will provide process infrastructure for two of Shell’s deepwater discoveries, West Boreas and South Deimos. This project will extend the life of the Mars Field to at least 2050.

The hull, or main body, of Shell’s sixth and largest TLP in the Gulf of Mexico departed the Samsung Heavy Industries yard in South Korea Nov. 28 aboard Dockside’s heavy lift vessel Blue Marlin and traveled 18,272 miles with 26 crew members on board.

The lift and set of the topsides modules began in February at the Kiewit Offshore Services Ltd.’s yard in Ingleside. Once integration with the topsides is complete, the platform will prepare to sail to its final location on the Mars Field in the Gulf of Mexico. Production start is around 2014, producing at a rate of 100,000 boe.

Williams Partners’ Gulfstar FPS
Gulfstar FPS is Williams Partners’ proprietary floating production system. The initial Gulfstar FPS, which has been under construction since late 2011, will support multiple agreements Williams Partners has signed with Hess Corp. and Chevron, through which production handling, export pipeline, oil and gas gathering and gas processing services are provided for the Tubular Bells field development located in the eastern deepwater Gulf of Mexico. The Gulfstar FPS will tie into Williams Partners’ wholly owned oil, gas gathering and processing systems in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Williams Partners also expects the initial Gulfstar FPS to be capable of serving as a central host facility for other deepwater prospects in the area.
Gulfstar FPS is expected to have an initial capacity of 60,000 bopd up to 200 MMcf/d and to provide seawater injection services. The facility is a spar-based floating production system that utilizes traditional three-level topsides mated to a classic spar hull. This standard design approach will allow customers to reduce their cycle time from discovery to first oil.
This Gulfstar FPS is the first spar-based floating production system with major components being built entirely in the U.S. Gulf Coast area. Gulf Island Fabrication and its subsidiary, Gulf Island Marine Fabrication, are constructing the hull and topsides of Gulfstar. Gulf Island Fabrication, Aransas Pass, TX is constructing the hull and Gulf Island Marine Fabrication, Houma, LA is constructing the topsides. The initial Gulfstar FPS is expected to be placed into service in mid-2014.

A subsidiary of McDermott International will transport and install the Gulfstar FPS GS-1 spar hull and moorings. The spar platform will be moored on the Tubular Bells development, situated about 150 miles offshore, on Mississippi Canyon Block 683 and 726 in a water depth of 4,200 feet (1,280 meters). McDermott’s DB50 vessel will install the moorings before transporting the classic-design spar hull to the installation site where it will be upended and ballasted before installing a temporary work deck. The offshore campaign is expected to begin in the third quarter of 2013.

Offshore installation is scheduled for completion during the first half of 2013. The initial Gulfstar FPS is expected to be placed into service in mid-2014. Williams Partners expects to develop additional Gulfstar FPS type projects in the Gulf.