Shell hopes to extend life of Mars B to 2050 with new Olympus TLP


Shell hopes to extend life of Mars B to 2050 with new Olympus TLP


CORPUS CHRISTI -- During a presentation near the construction site of Shell’s latest tension leg platform (TLP) set for deployment to the deepwater Gulf of Mexico Mars B field, company officials said they expect to see production from the platform as early as 2014. The Olympus TLP will be Shell’s largest deployed to the region, and raises the company’s floating structure count in the Gulf to six, said Shell’s Executive V.P. for Deepwater John Hollowell.

The deployment of the Olympus TLP marks the first time that a new platform has been sent to an existing field, said Derek Newberry, the project’s business opportunity manager. Peak production for the platform is expected to be 100,000 boed, targeting Shell’s recent West Boreas and South Deimos discoveries. The company estimates the reservoir depth associated with this project to be up to 22,000 ft, with development at a 3,100-ft water depth.

With the new platform, Shell looks to extend the life of the deepwater giant Mars B field, originally estimated to hold 700 million boe in 1989, to more than 1 billion boe to at least 2050. Production from the field is expected to help meet the growing U.S. and global energy demand, the company said. Mars B was originally drilled by the Noble Bully I drillship. To date, roughly 30 top holes have been drilled to hit 70 targets.

The new platform not only signifies Shell’s commitment to Mars B production, but also represents an important change in the mentality behind the construction of projects of this magnitude. Mark Lindsay, project manager for Shell, said the platform, which could take only four years to build if production starts in 2014, was engineered with a “design, then build” philosophy. Having a more mature design prior to bidding out a project like this can help improve safety records and overall quality, while reducing the total build cycle time. The goal, moving forward, is to aim for standardization on offshore builds.

The ability to shorten construction time on projects like Olympus is aided by having experienced team members on board, some of whom worked on, and learned from, earlier Shell projects like Auger, Ursa and Perdido. Key innovations to be found on the Olympus TLP include: new applications for vertical risers, a passive hull (no team members working inside the hull), and an advanced control room for greater IT management onboard and from shore. The platform’s three-part riser system can meet drilling, 10K and 15K depth needs, all with the same tendon configuration, for greater flexibility.

Lindsay said that the Olympus TLP is scheduled to sail out later in June, or in July, and that, after roughly a week’s journey, it will be prepped and attached by the end of July. He stressed the importance of having the platform “storm-safe” as soon as possible, given that the deployment is scheduled during the Gulf’s hurricane season.

As Shell continues its production plan for Mars B with the Olympus TLP, the company has its eyes on the “significant growth platform” comprising the company’s other recent deepwater Gulf of Mexico projects and discoveries, like Cardamom, Stones, Appomattox and Vito.

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