In the following video, see the Shell’s Olympus TLP hull arrive in Texas following the long journey from South Korea. The approximately 32,500 metric ton main body of the Olympus TLP, arrived in Texas two weeks ago.
The installation of the topsides will now take place before the TLP departs for its final location on the Mars Field in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Mars Field, owned by Shell (71.5%) and BP (28.5%), and operated by Shell, continues to contribute to the Gulf of Mexico’s position as a critical component of the US energy supply. Discovered in 1989 and brought onto production in 1996, the Mars Field is considered one of the largest resource basins in the Gulf of Mexico. 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 and lies in approximately 3000 feet of water.
The Olympus TLP, Shell’s sixth and largest tension leg platform, will also provide process infrastructure for two of Shell’s deep water discoveries, West Boreas and South Deimos.
By LISA DEMER — firstname.lastname@example.org
Royal Dutch Shell’s Kulluk drilling rig, re-secured to two ships with towlines early Monday, grounded around 9 p.m. in rocky water off the southern coast of Kodiak Island during a pounding Gulf of Alaska winter storm, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
A command team that includes Shell briefed reporters on the disaster with the Kulluk late Monday night.
It broke loose from a Shell-contracted ship, the Aiviq, around 4:40 p.m. Monday Then around 8:15 p.m., the second tow ship, the borrowed Alert, was directed to lose its towline to avoid danger to the nine crew members aboard, according to the command team managing the crisis, which includes Shell, the Coast Guard, the state of Alaska, and contractors.
No one was hurt, the Coast Guard said.
The command team numbers about 250 people and most are now based at the Anchorage Marriott Downtown because the operation was running out of room at Shell’s headquarters in Alaska, the Midtown Frontier Building.
When the Kulluk was cut loose from its final towline, it was four miles from land toward the south end of Kodiak Island, according to a written statement sent around 8:30 p.m. The grounding is the worst development yet in a crisis that began Thursday night when the $290 million, 266-foot-diameter Kulluk first lost a towline after the mechanical failure of a shackle used to connect it to the Aiviq.
Crews struggled against worsening weather and a mobile drilling unit that was unmanned with no propulsion capability of its own. The Coast Guard evacuated the Kulluk’s 18-person crew on Saturday for their own safety as the floating rig bobbed in giant swells in the Gulf of Alaska. After that, there was no way for the Kulluk to drop anchor and avoid grounding, said Coast Guard Commander Shane Montoya.
The crew had been trying to get the Kulluk to safe harbor on Kodiak Island but the storm, with huge swells and fierce winds, proved too much, Montoya said.
In a statement issued around 6 a.m. Monday, it was being held by towlines and was about 19 miles south of Kodiak.
“The safety of personnel and the environment remain the top priority,” the command team said in the
8:30 p.m. statement, announcing that the Kulluk was again adrift. “Difficult weather conditions are anticipated to continue throughout the day. Unified Command is considering all options.”
The statement did not specify options.
“This is an evolving situation,” the statement said. “More information will be released as it becomes available.”
The National Weather Service issued a storm warning Monday for the seas around Kodiak and said the marine conditions were hazardous. The forecast was for 36 foot seas, winds topping 60 mph and rain. But the rough seas were expected to ease by Tuesday.
As of late Monday afternoon, the unified command team planned to let the vessels wait out the incoming winter storm off the southern coast of Kodiak Island rather than attempt a move to a protected harbor that would be risky in severe weather, said Coast Guard Petty Officer David Mosely.
Early Monday morning after a night adrift for the Kulluk, crews tethered it to the Shell-contracted Aiviq, a massive ship 360 feet long, as well as the Alert, a 140-foot Crowley Marine Services tug normally under contract to Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. The Alert was diverted from its work as part of Alyeska’s five-tug oil spill prevention and response fleet escorting oil tankers in Prince William Sound but the other tugs can handle the duties with no reduction in tanker traffic, Alyeska spokeswoman Michelle Egan said.
Since the crisis began Thursday, the Kulluk has lost towlines to various ships at least five times, including on Sunday when it broke free of two ships, the Aiviq and another Shell-contracted vessel, the Nanuq. The $200 million Aiviq early Friday lost power to all four engines, which then were repaired and fully restarted by Saturday. The Aiviq was specifically built for Shell’s controversial drilling operations offshore in the Alaska Arctic. It is owned by Edison Chouest of Louisiana.
On Monday, crews were able to use a grappling hook to take up the loose end of a long line that was still attached on the other end to the Kulluk. Another line had been attached as a backup and was floating on a buoy and secured at the other end to the Kulluk. That was not one of the lines that broke on Sunday, Shell spokesman Curtis Smith said.
But the Kulluk lost both lines.
Shell began exploratory drilling this fall in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas under sharp criticism from environmentalists and some Alaska Native groups. The critics say Shell is ill-prepared for challenging work in harsh conditions, and that government regulators have failed to require the latest and best technologies.
In Shell’s case, its unique oil spill containment dome was damaged during testing, and another drilling rig, the Noble Discoverer, experienced a series of problems. It dragged anchor in Dutch Harbor, suffered a small fire in its smokestack and was cited by the Coast Guard for safety and pollution control issues.
“We’ve got a pattern of failures,” said Carl Wassilie, a Yup’ik Eskimo who coordinates a grass-roots group called Alaska’s Big Village Network and helped organize a protest Monday outside the Frontier Building, Shell’s Alaska headquarters. “I’m saying no, there’s no way that I can see any feasibility of drilling in the Arctic, especially with the extreme conditions that we’re seeing, not only with Mother Nature right now but also just the technical aspects of the failures that we’re seeing with the fleet.”
Shell responded that it has backup plans that kick in when problems emerge and that the actual drilling operations this year proceeded safely.
“Flawless operations remain the goal,” Smith said earlier on Monday. “But being a responsible operator also means putting contingencies in place when operations do not go as planned. We have done that.”
That includes calling in other vessels during the Kulluk emergency, he said. Shell now has four vessels on scene, and the Coast Guard brought in a cutter, the Alex Haley, the buoy tender Spar, as well as helicopters. On Monday, the Coast Guard flew a small crew to the evacuated Kulluk to inspect the towlines but they reportedly didn’t stay on long.
The Kulluk left Dutch Harbor the afternoon of Dec. 21 under tow by the Aiviq, headed to the Seattle area for off-season maintenance. The weather forecast for the next few days was typical, even a bit tame, for winter along the Aleutian chain and into the Gulf of Alaska: Winds of 17 to 35 mph, seas of 7 to 15 feet.
“Toward Kodiak Island, there was nothing of real significance,” said Sam Albanese, a warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service. “It was a pretty benign forecast.”
But by the afternoon of Dec. 25, the outlook had shifted from a prediction of more gale-force winds to a near storm at sea with winds topping 50 mph, he said.
And that’s what hit the Kulluk and the Aiviq last week.
By Saturday night, the winds were near hurricane force, the Coast Guard said.
Still, traffic along the busy shipping lanes through the Gulf of Alaska that connect Asia to North America continued during the heavy seas and storm, the Coast Guard’s Mosley said.
“We have ships coming through this area daily,” he said.
Over the past week or so, no ship captains alerted the Coast Guard that they were diverting course along the Aleutians or around Kodiak Island to avoid the rough seas take refuge in a safe harbor, he said. Ships typically keep the Coast Guard posted if they detour.
But a ship towing a heavy, conical rig like the Kulluk, with a derrick 160-feet tall, has a far more difficult task than one propelling only itself.
The Kulluk was designed for extended drilling in Arctic waters. It has an ice-reinforced, funnel-shape hull to deflect moving ice downward and break it into small pieces.
Reach Lisa Demer at email@example.com or 257-4390.
- Coast Guard: Crews Battle Fierce Storm While Assisting Disabled Aiviq and Kulluk [Incident Photos] (gcaptain.com)
- Drilling rig set to weather fierce storm in small Alaska port (fuelfix.com)
- Alert and Aiviq Regain Control of Arctic Drilling Rig Kulluk in Gulf of Alaska Storm (gcaptain.com)
- Coast Guard crews continue battling fierce storm to assist Kulluk near Kodiak, Alaska (uscgnews.com)
This week the SubseaIQ team added 1 new projects and updated 17 projects. You can see all the updates made over any time period via the Project Update History search. The latest offshore field develoment news and activities are listed below for your convenience.
N. America – US Alaska
Oct 5, 2012 – Shell announced the Kulluk (shallow-water semisub) has spud the top-hole section at its Sivulliq prospect in Alaska’s Beaufort Sea. The Noble Discoverer is currently engaged in the same type of work at the Burger prospect marking the first time in over 20 years that two rigs have been drilling off the Alaskan coast simultaneously. Last month Shell announced that its containment dome had been damaged during testing. Because of that, the rigs aren’t able to drill into possible hydrocarbon bearing formations, so for now they are restricted to drilling shallow top-hole sections in preparation for the drilling season next year.
Project Details: Torpedo and Sivulliq
Asia – Far East
Oct 2, 2012 – Roc Oil Company‘s exploratory drilling program is underway in southern China’s Beibu Gulf. Well WZ6-12N-1 is being drilled in 90 feet of water to a projected depth of 5,249 feet. Up to four exploration wells well be drilled in the WZ6-12 field by the COSL 931 (300’ ILC). Upon completion of the exploratory phase, a multi-well development program will commence pending National Development and Reform Commission approval, which is expected shortly. The combined drilling program is expected to be completed during 3Q 2013.
Project Details: Beibu Gulf
Oct 5, 2012 – Apache Australia awarded Subsea 7 a $100 million contract for the transportation, installation and pre-commissioning of subsea umbilicals, manifolds and diver-less tie-in spools for the Julimar Development Project offshore Western Australia. Project management and engineering will be handled from Subsea 7’s Perth office with offshore operations scheduled for 2014. Julimar field will be tied-in to and metered on the Chevron operated Wheatstone platform. First gas is planned for late 2016 and development is expected to continue for 20 years.
Project Details: Wheatstone
N. America – US GOM
Oct 4, 2012 – Murphy Exploration & Production has awarded Technip a lump sum contract for the development of the Dalmatian field in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. Dalmatian is located in the De Soto Canyon area in water depths ranging from 530 to 1800 feet. Scope of the project will include the engineering, project management, fabrication and installation of a gas riser, an oil riser, 23 miles of flowline and associated subsea structures. Technip will also carry out the installation and pre-commissioning of a main subsea control umbilical and infield umbilical with associated foundation and flying leads. Offshore installation is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2013.
Project Details: Dalmatian
Europe – North Sea
Oct 4, 2012 – The Irish Department of Environment, Community and Local Government awarded Providence Resources a Foreshore License for an area in the Kish Bank Basin offshore Dublin. Specifically, the Foreshore license allows Providence to conduct a 2D seismic survey, a well site survey and drill an exploration well on the Dalkey Island prospect in block SEL 2/11. Providence operates the block on behalf of its partner Petronas, each with a 50% interest. The prospect is a large undrilled structural closure at Lower Triassic level. Prolific Lower Triassic oil producers in the eastern Irish Sea off Liverpool add to the possibility that Dalkey holds oil.
Project Details: Dalkey Island
Oct 4, 2012 – Production systems are up and running at BP’s Devenick gas project in the central North Sea. The HPHT project is in the process of ramping up to full production – estimated to peak in 2013 at 100 million cubic feet per day. When producing at the maximum rate, Devenick will add an extra 3% to the UK’s total gas production. BP and partner RWE Dea have invested $1 million in the project which has largely been serviced by UK based companies. Gas is routed from a subsea manifold through an insulated pipeline to the Marathon-operated East Brae platform. It is estimated that the field holds 430 billion cubic feet and will maintain production until 2025.
Project Details: Devenick
Oct 4, 2012 – To date, Farifield Energy has invested $113.3 million in an effort to revitalize the Dunlin platform. For the first time since early 2000, the operator will be able to use its own independent power generation system to achieve significantly higher and sustained water injection performance. A new fuel gas import system and modified water injection system are expected to boost production of the mature field to around 10,000 bopd. Additional work has included platform and subsea modifications and a recent acquisition of a new 3D seismic survey over the field. The data will help support an exploration program that could result in additional wells being drilled and tied-back to the platform.
Project Details: Dunlin
Oct 4, 2012 – Aker Solutions has been awarded a $52.6 million contract by Statoil for the delivery of five subsea trees and 11 control modules to the Visund field on the Norwegian continental shelf. Included in the contract is an option for four additional subsea trees. The contract is a call-off from an existing frame agreement between the two companies signed in 2007. The trees will incorporate Aker’s most advanced subsea technology which will facilitate oil and gas production at a more efficient level and allow greater recovery of reservoir data. Manufacturing of the Visund trees and control modules will take place at Aker Solution’s Tranby and Aberdeen facilities respectively.
Project Details: Greater Gullfaks Area
Oct 2, 2012 – The 1.4 billion cubic meter-Atla gas and condensate field is expected to be brought on line in the first half of October according to Total, the field operator. Atla will be utilized via a subsea template tied back to an existing pipeline between the Skirne subsea facilities and the Heimdal Gas Center. The original exploration well was drilled into the Brent formation and is now being re-used as a production well.
Project Details: Atla (David)
Oct 2, 2012 – Faroe Petroleum contracted the West Navigator (UDW drillship) to drill an exploration well at their Novus prospect during the second half of 2013. The prospect is located in the productive Halten Terrace hydrocarbon region offshore Norway and covers blocks 6507/7 and 6507/10 of production license 645. Partners in the license include Centrica (40%) and Skagen (10%). Primary objectives of the well will be the Jurassic reservoirs of the Garn, Ile and Tilje formations. Novus will be Faroe’s second operated well on the Norwegian continental shelf.
Project Details: Novus
Oct 2, 2012 – Norwegian oil major Statoil announced Tuesday that it and its partners have decided to stop work on a capacity increase at the Melk??ya facility serving the Sn??hvit license in the Barents Sea after they concluded that current gas discoveries do not justify the expansion of the field. Statoil said that over the last 18 months, the Sn??hvit license partners carried out studies for the expansion of gas exports from the field, and that increased capacity would enable the accelerated gas production of increased reserves in the Sn??hvit license. Thorough studies were carried out both on an LNG train and a dew-point facility/pipeline solution, while considerable resources were devoted to finding solutions that could make a capacity expansion possible. However, the license partners have now decided the immediate future will focus on optimizing and upgrading the existing LNG facility at Melk??ya. Statoil, the operator, holds 36.79 percent of the Sn??hvit license, while Petoro, Total E&P Norge and RWE Dea Norge hold 18.4 percent, 12 percent and 2.81 percent respectively.
Project Details: Snohvit
Oct 2, 2012 – Dana Petroleum recently announced it has taken over operatorship of the Triton FPSO from Hess. The Triton FPSO serves the Bittern, Guillemot West and Northwest, Clapham, Pict and Saxon fields. As part of the agreement, Dana also acquired Hess’ 28.28% stake in the Bittern field bringing Dana’s interest in the field to 33%. The acquisition is keeping in line with the company’s strategy of moving from mainly non-operated to fully operated activities in the UK North Sea.
Project Details: Triton FPSO
Oct 1, 2012 – Consent has been granted by the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) allowing Marathon Oil to assume operatorship of the Vilje field in block 25/4 of production license 036D. Vilje has been developed via two subsea wells connected to the Alvheim FPSO. Marathon is now the operator of three producing fields offshore Norway. Partners in the field consist of Statoil with a 28.8% stake and a 25.2%-stake for Total. Additionally, the partners have decided to develop Vilje South through a single development well and standard subsea template.
Project Details: Alvheim
Oct 1, 2012 – Well 16/2-13A, the sidetrack of appraisal well 16/2-13S, has proven excellent reservoir quality and thickness in the PL501 area of the Johan Sverdrup field. Lundin Petroleum indicates results from the well have validated the field geologic model and confirmed a deeper oil-water contact in that area. A comprehensive coring and logging suite was carried out and helped confirm a gross reservoir column of 72 feet. The sidetrack was drilled to a depth of 9,107 feet and now both wells will be plugged and abandoned.
Project Details: Johan Sverdrup
- Subsea equipment providers see boom ahead (fuelfix.com)
- Recap: Worldwide Field Development News Jul 27 – Aug 2, 2012 (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Shell Starts Exploratory Drilling in Beaufort Sea, Alaska (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Houston, TX: Petrobras Awards Subsea Supply Contract to Dril-Quip (Brazil) (mb50.wordpress.com)
- USA: Gulf Island Fabrication to Build 335 Class Offshore Liftboat for Montco Offshore (mb50.wordpress.com)
On October 3, 2012, at approximately 2:45PM AKDT, the Kulluk began drilling at Shell’s Sivulliq prospect. Shell has noted that the occasion is historic in that it’s the first time two rigs have been drilling simultaneously offshore Alaska in over two decades. The Noble Discoverer has been drilling at Shell’s Burger prospect in the Chukchi Sea since September.
“In the weeks ahead we look forward to operating safely and responsibly, putting Americans to work and adding to Shell’s long, successful history of drilling offshore Alaska,” said Pete Slaiby, VP Alaska.
Bought by Shell in 2005, the Kulluk was speciﬁcally designed and constructed for extended season drilling operations in Arctic waters.
- Shell starts exploratory drilling in Beaufort Sea (fuelfix.com)
- Shell begins second drilling operation in Alaska’s Arctic seas (fuelfix.com)
- Shell prepares for Beaufort Sea drilling (fuelfix.com)
Executives for ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, BP, and TransCanada submitted a letter to the Parnell administration describing their companies’ progress in advancing an Alaska liquefied natural gas (LNG) export project.
“I’m encouraged that the companies have made significant progress in advancing a project and an associated schedule for commercializing North Slope gas,” Governor Parnell said. “Clearly, they have fully shifted their efforts to an Alaska LNG project.”
The companies’ letter addresses a critical benchmark that Governor Parnell laid out in his January State of the State address, calling on the companies to harden the numbers on an LNG project and identify a project timeline by the end of the third quarter.
The letter also addresses an additional third-quarter benchmark that Governor Parnell laid out in his address, calling on the companies to complete their discussions with the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC) on the potential to consolidate their work. In the letter, the companies said they have established a cooperative framework with AGDC to share information.
“I am also encouraged to see the significant work between AGDC, which is advancing an in-state gas project, and the Alaska Pipeline Project (APP), which is advancing an LNG export project. Deeper cooperation between these two state-backed efforts is strongly in the state’s interest,” Governor Parnell said.
Prior to the announcement, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and BP had met two earlier benchmarks laid out in Governor Parnell’s State of the State address. On March 29, the state and the companies resolved the Point Thomson litigation. The following day, the companies announced their alignment “on a structured, stewardable and transparent approach with the aim to commercialize North Slope natural gas within the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA) framework.”
Letter from the producers and TransCanada provide details on the team they have assembled and the team’s activities in developing a project, building on their previous work to commercialize North Slope gas. The documents include a project timeline and a cost range covering various stages in the project development schedule and work plan. The documents also provide new details regarding the components of an Alaska LNG project, including a liquefaction facility, gas production and storage, a large-diameter pipeline, and a gas treatment plant.
Over the past six months, more than 200 employees from the four companies have been working on managerial, technical, and commercial aspects during this phase of the project schedule, according to the letter.
Given the massive size of the North Slope conventional gas resource (35 trillion cubic feet of reserves and more than 200 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, technically recoverable resources) and the scope of the project as described by the companies, an Alaska LNG project will be one of the largest in the world.
While the companies have been developing their LNG project design, the Parnell administration has undertaken significant outreach to Pacific Rim markets to highlight the comparative advantages of Alaska LNG exports, and to other key stakeholders, including U.S. government officials in charge of export licensing.
The most recent of these efforts was Governor Parnell’s trade mission in September to South Korea and Japan, where he discussed Alaska LNG exports with leading government and industry officials.
- Alaska gas line project could cost $65B or more (jsonline.com)
- Parnell in Asia, touting Alaska natural gas (juneauempire.com)
- Alaska Sees Asia Driving Annual $20 Billion Via Pipeline – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Alaska cozies to Asia for natural gas (upi.com)