Royal Dutch Shell plc (Shell) today announces a final investment decision in the Stones ultra-deepwater project, a Gulf of Mexico oil and gas development expected to host the deepest production facility in the world.
This decision sets in motion the construction and fabrication of a floating production, storage, and offloading (FPSO) vessel and subsea infrastructure. The development will start with two subsea production wells tied back to the FPSO vessel, followed later by six additional production wells. This first phase of development is expected to have annual peak production of 50,000 boe/d from more than 250 million boe of recoverable resources. The Stones field has significant upside potential and is estimated to contain over 2 billion boe of oil in place.
“This important investment demonstrates our ongoing commitment to usher in the next generation of deepwater developments, which will deliver more production growth in the Americas,” said John Hollowell, Executive Vice President for Deepwater, Shell Upstream Americas. “We will continue our leadership in safe, innovative deepwater operations to help meet the growing demand for energy in the US.”
The Stones field is located in 9,500 feet (2,896 meters) of water, approximately 200 miles (320 kilometers) southwest of New Orleans, Louisiana, and was discovered in 2005. The project encompasses eight US Federal Outer Continental Shelf lease blocks in the Gulf of Mexico’s Lower Tertiary geologic trend. Shell has been one of the pioneers in the Lower Tertiary, establishing first production in the play from its Perdido Development.
An FPSO design was selected to safely develop and produce this ultra-deepwater discovery, while addressing the relative lack of infrastructure, seabed complexity, and unique reservoir properties. With an FPSO, tankers will transport oil from the Stones FPSO to US refineries, and gas will be transported by pipeline.
The launch of the Stones development is a key milestone as Shell continues to grow deepwater exploration and development in the Gulf of Mexico, having made significant progress recently on the Mars-B development project with the arrival of the Olympus tension leg platform. Shell is also in the concept selection phase for the Appomattox and Vito discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico.
Shell holds 100% interest and will operate the Stones development.
Subsea mooring connector (SMC) specialist, First Subsea has invested over £200,000 in new mooring connector test rig facilities at its production site in Lancaster, UK.
The test-rig is being used in the manufacture of ‘next generation’ SMCs for industry leading, deepwater mooring projects: the Jack & St Malo field’s semi-submersible platform and Lucius field’s Spar moorings, both in the Gulf of Mexico.
The SMC test rig is used for proof load and Minimum Breaking Load (MBL) testing up to 2,600mT (25,497 kN).
‘Next Generation’ Mooring Connectors
First Subsea leads the world in research into large scale steel forgings. In collaboration with the University of Sheffield’s Institute for Microstructural and Mechanical Process Engineering (IMMPETUS), the company has systematically improved the performance of its mooring connectors. The metals forging research is now being applied to the manufacture of the company’s latest Ballgrab Series III male connectors – the largest produced so far with an un-corroded 2,599mT (25,491kN) MBL, and compliant with the ABS Mooring Guide 2009.
“This is a significant investment that will ensure our Ballgrab subsea mooring connector continues to set the standard for deepwater moorings,” says John Shaw, managing director, First Subsea Ltd.