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Gulf of Mexico: Mexico details Gulf oil find

Posted on August 29, 2012 at 5:19 pm
by Houston Chronicle

By Dudley Althaus

MEXICO CITY — After more than a dozen attempts, Mexico’s national petroleum monopoly has struck significant oil very near the U.S. boundary in the ultra-deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, President Felipe Calderon said Wednesday.

“This is a great discovery,” Calderon said in announcing the find by Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, beneath more than 8,300 feet of water and miles of earth, the first successful well in a system that he said ultimately may hold as much as 10 billion barrels of oil.

“It will further strengthen our petroleum reserves and will permit Mexico to maintain and increase petroleum production in the medium and long term.”

Pemex has been scrambling in recent years to replace the sharp production declines in the Cantarell offshore field at the foot of the Gulf. Earlier deep water attempts have either produced dry wells or natural gas that’s uneconomical to exploit at current prices.

Pemex estimates that its Gulf reserves may hold as much as 27 billion barrels of petroleum.

The new discovery lies in the so-called Perdido belt of the Gulf, just 24 miles from the U.S. boundary and about 110 miles offshore of Mexico’s northeastern coast. Calderon said Wednesday the initial estimate of a deposit in the Perdido area on Mexico’s side of the Gulf was between 250 and 400 million barrels.

A partnership headed by Shell Oil, Chevron and British Petroleum has been producing about 100,000 barrels a day from three fields in U.S. territory about 30 miles north of the new Pemex discovery. The companies began producing from their Perdido wells in March 2010, after three years of exploration and development of the field.

“People thought Pemex would find oil in Perdido if they could just successfully drill a well,” said Houston analyst George Baker, who closely tracks Mexico’s energy industries. Now, Baker said, Pemex will have to find the means to actually bring to market the barrels of oil in the find.

“The whole science of how you produce from deep water has little to do with the science of discovering a well,” Baker said. “It’s much more difficult.”

The discovery is likely to fuel the impending debate over further opening Pemex and Mexico’s petroleum resources to private investment. Proponents have argued that Pemex needs private investment from companies to fully develop Mexico’s petroleum potential.

Not only is private investment needed to find deep water oil, but also to develop any petroleum finds and bring them to market, they say.

Getting at the deep water oil will indeed prove difficult for Pemex. But for now the find gives Calderon bragging rights for reversing what had been a rapid decline in Mexico’s petroleum reserves as Canterell plays out and other fields had struggled to keep up.

“We received a company that had not been able to successfully explore in deep waters,” Calderon said of Pemex at the start of his six year term. “Today we leave a company that is doing so with great success.”
“We knew it was indispensable to go after this wealth,” Calderon said.

Calderon and Pemex officials said the new find would not be in production for at least another five years.
Baker said available deep water pipeline technology may enable Pemex to export its oil through the Perdido production platform jointly owned by Shell or other multinationals.

But he suggested Pemex does not yet have the technical capability to make those connections. For now the well will have to be plugged, Baker said, a procedure whose risk the Deep Water Horizon disaster made all too clear.

Calderon said the new deep water find proves that “there is no frontier so distant or so deep that we can’t cross. There is no challenge, no matter how complicated, that we can’t overcome.”


Chevron: Oil, gas output from Jack/St Malo could double


13 Mar 2012, 7.06 pm GMT

New York, 13 March (Argus) — Chevron said its efforts to boost recoveries in the Lower Tertiary trend of the US Gulf of Mexico may double the amount of crude and natural gas extracted from its $7.5bn Jack/St Malo development.

The October 2010 decision to go forward with Jack/St Malo was predicated on recovering less than 10pc of the crude and gas in place, or about 500mn barrels of oil equivalent (boe) over the life of the deepwater development. Technological advances may drive recoveries to more than 20pc, or 1bn boe, Chevron North American upstream president Gary Luquette said today.

“We have effectively added a half billion barrels to Jack/St Malo, and we’re looking to apply what we’ve learned here to other Lower Tertiary developments,” Luquette said.

Deepwater projects will be key in Chevron’s plan to boost upstream production by 20pc, to 3.3mn boe/d, by 2017. The company aims to increase its global deepwater output to 470,000 boe/d from 375,000 boe/d. The Jack/St Malo platform, which will have a tieback to at least one other field, will have capacity to handle 170,000 b/d of oil and 42.5mn cubic feet/day of gas.

Lessons learned from early struggles with the Shell-operated Perdido development, which began production in March 2010, will help with other Lower Tertiary projects in the Gulf, Luquette said. Perdido was slower to ramp up than planned, but now is at more than 90,000 boe/d.

Chevron intervened to make design changes to the Hess-operated Tubular Bells project, also in the Lower Tertiary trend, increasing the major’s confidence that the development will be done on budget and on plan, Luquette said.

Jack/St Malo and Tubular Bells are both scheduled to commence production in 2014, as is the Chevron-operated Big Foot project in the Lower Tertiary.

Lower Tertiary oil deposits are beneath a thick salt canopy, making exploration more difficult, and are characterized by high pressure, high temperature and low porosity.

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Pemex Ready to Drill in GOM’s Deep Waters


by  Dow Jones Newswires
Laurence Iliff
Wednesday, February 29, 2012

MEXICO CITY – Mexico‘s state-owned oil company Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, is ready to drill in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico near the maritime border with the U.S., its head of production said Tuesday.

Pemex has in place high-tech drilling platforms, safety systems and membership in a well-containment group as part of redundant measures to prevent and control an oil leak, Carlos Morales Gil said at a news conference.

Pemex has complied with the requirements of Mexico’s watchdog National Hydrocarbons Commission, or CNH, he added.

“Yes, we’re going to Perdido this year, in a few months,” Morales said, referring to the hydrocarbon formation already being drilled on the U.S. side. “And, yes, we are in compliance with all of the requirements.”

The CNH chief, Juan Carlos Zepeda, said recently that he didn’t think Pemex was prepared for the challenges of drilling deep-water wells–those at depths exceeding 6,000 feet. Zepeda had said that Pemex wasn’t in compliance with the CNH because the oil company hadn’t yet been accepted into a well-containment group.

Zepeda’s warnings followed the Deepwater Horizon blowout, which killed 11 workers in April 2010 and caused the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. Pemex had its own blowout in the shallow waters of the Gulf in 1979 that spilled oil for months and fouled beaches in Texas.

Morales said Tuesday that Pemex has detailed seismic information of the Perdido area where it plans to drill, and that the oil monopoly has been training its own people and contracting international crews.

Furthermore, Pemex has received word that it is being accepted into the Helix Well Containment Group, he said, a U.S. consortium that inherited and improved some of the equipment used to cap the Deepwater Horizon spill.

Pemex is leasing three of the current generation of drilling platforms, according to Morales, with multiple safety systems. In the event of a blowout or leaking well, Pemex could drill a relief well relatively quickly because it has the three high-tech platforms in the Gulf and could move one or more.

On Monday, Pemex said it had a net loss of 23.8 billion pesos ($1.7 billion) in the fourth quarter as it paid more to the federal government in taxes and royalties than a year earlier, and had foreign exchange losses as a result of a weaker Mexican peso.

Pemex said sales in the final quarter of the year rose 22.5% from the fourth quarter of 2010 to MXN420.3 billion, thanks to higher world oil prices. The higher crude prices–$104.40 per barrel compared with $70.80 a year ago–were partially offset by lower export volume, which fell 10.5% to 1.339 million barrels a day, Pemex said in a filing with the local stock exchange.


USA: Shell Sets World Record for Deepest Subsea O&G Well at Perdido Development


Shell Oil Company is now producing oil from the world’s deepest subsea well at its Perdido Development, utilizing advanced technology to lead the way in increasing the company’s ability to produce more domestic oil and gas resources.

The well, at 9,627 feet below the water’s surface, is located in the Tobago Field 200 miles southwest of Houston in the ultra-deep water of the Gulf of Mexico. Tobago is jointly owned by Shell (32.5%, as operator), Chevron (57.5%), and Nexen (10.0%) and is one of three fields producing through the Perdido drilling and production platform.

Tobago breaks the world water depth record for subsea production, previously held by another field in the Perdido Development, the Silvertip field at 9,356 feet of water.

“Energy is fundamental to global economic growth. Providing this energy must be met practically, safely and in an environmentally responsible manner,” said Marvin Odum, Upstream Americas Director. “Through our highly skilled workforce and cadre of global geoscientists, Shell has applied its advanced seismic and drilling technologies at Perdido to produce additional sources of oil and gas.”

Moored in about 8,000 feet of water, the Perdido platform is jointly owned by Shell (33.34%), BP (33.33%) and Chevron (33.33%) and is the deepest drilling and production facility in the world with a capacity to handle 100,000 barrels of oil per day and 200 million standard cubic feet of gas per day. From Perdido, Shell accesses the Great White, Tobago, and Silvertip oil and gas fields through subsea wells directly below the facility and from wells up to seven miles away. At its peak, Perdido can produce enough energy to meet the needs of more than two million US households. Shell operates Perdido and its satellite fields on behalf of partners Chevron, Nexen, and BP.

This world-class project began with the 1996 lease sale when the technology to develop hydrocarbons at Perdido’s water depth did not yet exist. By the time the final investment decision for commercial development was made in October 2006, Shell had pioneered several technological firsts which allowed the company to proceed with ultra deepwater oil and gas production. Development drilling began in July 2007, five years after the discovery of hydrocarbons. Perdido produced its first oil and gas on March 31, 2010.

Perdido Technical Facts and Firsts

*Deepest water depth record for an offshore oil drilling and production platform.

*First water injection in 8,000 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico (Great White GB001) helps push oil through the reservoir, from the injector wells to the production wells.

*First commercial production from the Lower Tertiary geological formation, which many see as the next big opportunity in deep water.

*Deployment of an innovative subsea separation and boosting system that compensates for the low-pressure reservoir and about 2,000 psi of backpressure from the wells. The system includes five specially designed 1,500-horsepower electric pumps embedded in the seafloor to boost production to the surface.

*First spar with direct vertical access wells and production hardware on the seafloor at a depth of more than 8,000 feet.

*Perdido weighs 50,000-tons and sits in water six times deeper than the height of the Empire State Building.

*The entire Perdido project has achieved 13 million man-hours without a lost-time injury, testifying to the effectiveness of the safety regimes put in place by the construction and operating teams.


Perdido Hub


Located at Alaminos Canyon Block 857 approximately 220 miles (354 kilometers) from Galveston, Texas in the Gulf of Mexico, is Perdido, an oil and gas spar production facility. Shell, 35% shareholder and operator, along with BP, 27.5%, and Chevron, 37.5%, are developing the regional host facility.

Since the project began, multiple world records were made in the offshore industry. Perdido is the deepest oil development, the deepest drilling and production platform, and will produce from the deepest subsea well in the world.

The hub produces from three fields: Great White, Silvertip and Tobago. The fields are situated on the Perdido fold belt, offshore in the deep northwestern section of the Alaminos Canyon outer continental shelf area. The fold belt region is in water depths ranging from 7,546 to 9,843 feet (2,300 to 3,000 meters), which are considered some of the deepest waters in the gulf.

In order to develop the wells in ultra deep depths, and reduce costs, the companies decided to use a common processing hub, Perdido. The spar incorporates drilling and capabilities to gather, process and export production within a 30-mile (48-kilometer) radius.


Development drilling of the fields commenced in July 2007 and was performed by the Noble Clyde Boudreaux semisubmersible-drilling rig. Shell set a world record in December 2008 for the deepest completed offshore production well, at about 2,852 meters (9,356 feet) below the water’s surface. Even though the first of the three fields, Great White, was discovered in 2002, the companies agreed to move forward with development in 2007.

Great White

Great White is located on Alaminos Canyon Block 857 in a water depth of 8,000 feet (2,438 meters), and is owned and operated by Shell, 33.34%, while Chevron and BP each hold a 33.3% interest.

Discovered in May 2002 by the Deepwater Nautilus semisub, the discovery well was drilled to a true vertical depth of 19,907 feet (6,068 meters). Then in 2004, an appraisal well was drilled to a true vertical depth of 15,035 feet (4,586 meters). Shell drilled a total of five wells at Great White, spudding the fifth well in March 2004.


Silvertip is located in Alaminos Canyon Block 815 and is 60% owned by Chevron, while operator Shell owns the remaining 40% interest. The field was discovered in August 2004 in 9,200 feet of water (2,804 meters) and drilling reached a total depth of 14,778 feet (4,504 meters).


Considered the world’s deepest subsea completion to date, Tobago is located in Alaminos Canyon Block 859 in 9,600 feet (2,926 meters) of water, which surpassed the previous record set by Silvertip. Shell, the operator, owns 32.5%, along with its co-owner Chevron, 57.5%, and Nexen, 10%. In 2004, the well was drilled to a total depth of 18,510 feet (5,642 meters), and then a sidetrack well was drilled to 18,425 feet (5,616 meters).

Subsea Development

Because the field’s water depths are greater than previously encountered anywhere in the world, and the need to drill multiple wells from several fields to reduce cost and environmental impact, the companies decided to use a 555-foot (169-meter) spar instead of a typical tension leg platform. The cylinder spar is a partially submerged offshore drilling and production platform that is particularly adapted to ultra-deepwater and fierce hurricane weather.

Once the facility was chosen and construction began, subsea development commenced.

Oceaneering International received a contract by Shell for the fabrication and installation of subsea hardware for the Perdido project. The hardware included 29 flowlines and well jumper spools, and a pipeline tie-in sled.

FMC Technologies performed the subsea completion and processing systems, which included 17-subsea trees, two subsea manifolds, five-subsea caisson separation and boosting systems, a topside and subsea controls, and related subsea equipment. Also included in the scope of work is the design of the steel catenary risers, top tension risers and umbilicals.

Acergy North won the transportation and installation contract for the subsea production umbilicals. The work scope included 37 miles (60 kilometers) of steel-tube super duplex subsea production umbilicals, four dynamic and three static, associated flying leads and subsea hardware.

Five risers hang down to the seafloor, and then branch out into clusters of connected wells. On the seafloor, 22 wells, extending more than 14,000 feet (4,267 meters) from the surface, will be linked to the Perdido spar, with an additional eight tie-backs from subsea completions. Fifteen hundred horsepower electric pumps will bring oil to the surface against extreme pressures from three undersea fields, while gas is separated on the sea floor and sent to the production unit.

Perdido Spar

The spar facility was installed in August 2008. The Perdido spar is a massive steel structure that is 568 feet (173 meters) tall, 112 feet (34 meters) in diameter and floats on a sunken cylinder. Perdido was constructed by Technip in Pori, Finland, and began its journey to Texas in May 2008. Kiewit is constructing the topsides in Ingleside, Texas.

Moored in 7,817 feet (2,383 meters) of water, nine chains and polyester rope mooring lines, roughly 2 miles (3 kilometers) in length, secure the 50,000-ton (45,359-tonne) spar. On this project, Heerema Marine Contractors installed the world’s deepest permanent mooring anchor pile in 8,631 feet (2,632 meters) of water using the deepwater crane vessel (DCV) Balder.

In 2006, Shell awarded Technip a contract to provide the Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) of the spar hull and mooring system. The contract covers the design and fabrication; load out onto a transportation vessel, and transportation and quayside delivery.


The facility began production on March 31, 2010 from five wells on the Great White field, with all wells expecting to come online by 2016. The spar is designed to produce 100,000 bopd and 200 MMcf/d (6 MMcm/d).

The spar’s life expectancy is 25 years. Shell did not disclose the cost of the facility, but insiders are estimating costs to total $4 billion, given the size and complexity of the project.

Further Development

While development is on going in this area, Chevron and partners continue to evaluate development alternatives for other discoveries in the Great White-Perdido-Foldbelt area, which include Tiger and Trident.


Mexico: Pemex Earmarks USD 1 Billion for Perdido Exploration


Mexican state oil company Pemex’s E&P subsidiary PEP will spend US$1bn in 2012 for the exploration of the Perdido fold belt in the Gulf of Mexico near the US border, PEP’s CEO Carlos Morales told reporters in a seminar in Mexico City.

The amount includes the drilling of three wells in the area, in addition to costs associated with delimitation of the field. First production from Perdido is expected some five years after hydrocarbons are discovered.

The area contains 3Bboe of prospective hydrocarbons resources, Morales said. In the entire Mexican deepwater Gulf of Mexico, Pemex believes it has 29.5Bboe prospective resources. It represents the company’s long-term hope for sustaining production, which has been falling since 2004 due to the natural decline of the giant Cantarell field and a lack of exploration.

Hydrocarbons that are produced would likely cross the maritime border into US waters to utilize existing infrastructure.

The company was expected to begin drilling of Perdido in 2011, but delayed arrival of the Bicentenario semi-submersible rig and concerns prompted by last year’s Deepwater Horizon spill pushed back the start of exploration.

Bicentenario began drilling its first well, Talipau-1, in 940m water depth in mid-2011 and will subsequently move to Perdido. The NOC awarded the five-year rental contract in 2007 to consortium Industrial Perforadora de Campeche and Grupo R Exploración Marina (Gremsa).

Pemex could also drill Perdido using the West Pegasus semi-submersible rig, previously known as Sea Dragon. The contract for the rig, signed with offshore driller Seadrill for a five-year term, also began this year.

Upstream regulator CNH’s commissioner Edgar Rangel told reporters in August that it planned to evaluate the Perdido area in the following months for potential approval.

By David Biller (Business News Americas)


Map picture

Shell Perdido: The first full field subsea separation and pumping system in the Gulf of Mexico. (video)

Uploaded by fmctechnologies on Apr 25, 2011

The Shell Perdido is the first full field subsea separation and pumping system in the Gulf of Mexico.

This is FMC Technologies‘ second full field development with Shell utilizing subsea oil and gas separation and boosting, following the award of the Shell BC-10 project in offshore Brazil. The Perdido project will have a SPAR-based processing hub moored in an estimated 7,874 ft (2,400 m) of water, making it the deepest production SPAR in the world. The Perdido project will utilize FMC’s globally managed product standards, supporting manufacturing and supply networks and project management processes.

Perdido Subsea System (video)

Uploaded by fmctechnologies on Apr 25, 2011

The Shell Perdido is the first full field subsea separation and pumping system in the Gulf of Mexico.

This is FMC Technologies‘ second full field development with Shell utilizing subsea oil and gas separation and boosting, following the award of the Shell BC-10 project in offshore Brazil. The Perdido project will have a SPAR-based processing hub moored in an estimated 7,874 ft (2,400 m) of water, making it the deepest production SPAR in the world. The Perdido project will utilize FMC’s globally managed product standards, supporting manufacturing and supply networks and project management processes.

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