David Paganie - Houston
Plenty of spare capacity
There is plenty of existing infrastructure and spare capacity in many areas of Gulf of Mexico deepwater to accommodate new subsea tiebacks, according to Wood Mackenzie’s Upstream Insight, North America edition, published earlier this year. The report notes a trend in decreasing deepwater facility utilization. It estimates utilization of deepwater processing facilities in 2009 to be 46% for gas and 48% for liquids. This is down from 80% and 70% respectively in 2000 as a result of new facilities coming online, capacity upgrades at existing facilities, and natural reservoir depletion. The most tieback friendly protraction areas for the foreseeable future, according to the report, are Mississippi Canyon and Green Canyon, with about 63% of 2009 spare processing capacity. The report estimates that 13 deepwater platforms will have spare capacity of at least 50,000 boe/d each during 2009. By 2014, the report projects the number of platforms will increase to 30.
Wood Mackenzie expects Mississippi Canyon and Green Canyon protraction areas to offer the most spare volume in the foreseeable future. Graph courtesy of Wood Mackenzie.
Recently, operators have announced plans to take advantage of that spare capacity.
Murphy plans to tie back its Dalmatian discovery on De Soto Canyon block 48 to existing infrastructure in the area. The well, drilled by Diamond Offshore’s semisubmersible Ocean Confidence in 5,900 ft (1,798 m) of water, encountered approximately 120 ft (37 m) measured depth of net gas pay, according to Murphy.
Murphy operates Dalmatian with a 50% working interest; Newfield Exploration has 37.5%; and Mariner Energy Inc. owns 12.5%.
2009 spare capacity (’000 boe/d) by platform in the Green Canyon and Mississippi Canyon protraction areas. Charts courtesy of Wood Mackenzie.
Newfield says it expects first production from its Fastball field in late 2009/early 2010, via existing Ram Powell TLP in Viosca Knoll block 956. The company has applied for a permit with MMS to tie back subsea well No. 2 in Viosca Knoll block 1003 via 10.4 mi (16.7 km) of 6-in.(15-cm) pipeline to the TLP. Mariner plans a one-well, 22-mi (35.4-km) subsea tieback from W&T-operated Daniel Boone in Green Canyon block 646 to the existing Front Runner spar in Green Canyon block 338. First production is expected in the second half of 2009. ATP also plans a tieback to Front Runner. The company is developing its Clipper field in Green Canyon blocks 338 and 299 with two subsea wells tied back 15 mi (24 km) to the spar. Pegasus International recently secured a contract for the project. Its scope of work includes pipeline and riser design verification, PLET and jumper design, procurement, inspection services, and construction and installation support. Mariner plans a two-well, 40-mi (64-km) subsea tieback from Geauxpher in Garden Banks block 462 to an existing fixed platform in Garden Banks block 72. First production is expected by the end of this year.
Mustang lands Pony topsides contract
Hess Corp. has awarded Mustang Engineering a contract for the front-end engineering design (FEED) of the topsides facilities for the Pony deepwater development. The FEED study is expected to be completed by year-end.
The Pony development plan calls for subsea wells tied back to a floating production facility, likely of the TLP, spar, or semisubmersible variety. Mustang says it has been studying various field development configurations with Hess over the past year.
The Hess-operated Pony field is in Green Canyon block 468 in 3,500 ft (1,067 m) of water. Drilling results to date have confirmed more than 200 MMboe, according to Hess.
Meanwhile, Nexen says it plans to appraise the Knotty Head discovery in mid-2009 on adjacent block GC 512.
BP strikes oil in deepwater
BP has made an oil discovery at the Freedom/Gunflint prospect on Mississippi Canyon block 948, approximately 70 mi (113 km) southeast of the Louisiana coast, in 6,100 ft (1,860 m) of water.
Freedom/Gunflint is BP’s third major discovery in the lower Mississippi Canyon area. To download Offshore’s latest Gulf of Mexico map, please visit: www.offshore-mag.com.
Transocean’s semisubmersible rig Deepwater Horizon drilled the discovery well to approximately 29,280 ft (8,927 m) TD. It encountered greater than 550 net ft (168 m) of hydrocarbon-bearing sands in Middle and Lower Miocene reservoirs, according to BP. That is twice the thickness expected by block operator Noble Energy.
An appraisal well is planned in the second half of 2009/early 2010, according to Noble.
Freedom/Gunflint is BP’s third discovery in the lower MC area. Earlier this year, the Kodiak discovery on Mississippi Canyon block 771 encountered over 150 m (500 ft) of hydrocarbon-bearing sands in Middle and Lower Miocene reservoirs, and in 2003, the Tubular Bells discovery on Mississippi Canyon block 725 hit 190 ft (58 m) of net oil pay.
“This discovery (Freedom/Gunflint) further strengthens BP’s resource base and portfolio of potential development projects in the GoM,” says Andy Inglis, BP chief executive for exploration and production. “We believe that Freedom straddles Mississippi Canyon block 948 and Mississippi Canyon block 992, and we look forward to working with our various partners towards efficient development of these discovered resources.”
BP operates the Freedom/Gunflint discovery well with a 25% working interest. Noble Energy operates the block with a 37.5% working interest. Partners are Samson Offshore Co. (25%) and Marathon Oil Co. (12.5%).
Samson is in the latter part of an agreement it signed with Noble Energy in December 2005. The agreement covers 37 deepwater leases held by Noble. Terms of the agreement called for Samson to acquire a 25% working interest net in Noble’s existing working interest in the leases, and to participate in at least four exploration wells through the end of this year.
SAIC to conduct loop current study
MMS has awarded a $5.5-million contract to Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) to conduct a study of the Gulf of Mexico loop current. The loop current, which forms the upstream portion of the Gulf Stream, is the Gulf’s principal ocean current. It transports energy, mass, heat, momentum, and salt from the eastern to the western half of the Gulf.
The five-year study will focus on the dynamics of the loop current in the Eastern GoM through observations and numerical modeling. MMS says the findings of the study will help it fulfill its regulatory mission by providing information on how energetic currents may interrupt oil production and change or affect the movement of oil spills, including natural seeps from the ocean floor. Human activities in the GoM and its coastal areas also can be made safer with an increased understanding of the loop current, the agency adds.
Nine moorings, or anchored lines, will be placed in the Gulf waters for approximately 30 months. Instruments attached to the moorings will measure current strength, water temperature, and salinity levels.
Scientists from the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Lab (AOML) will join SAIC to study the thermal structure of the loop current. The hope is for this data to help more accurately forecast the intensification of hurricanes entering the GoM. In addition, scientists from Princeton University, the University of Rhode Island, and the University of Colorado are part of the SAIC team to carry out the modeling, deep ocean circulation field observations, and the remote sensing observations for this study.
All data from this study will be submitted to the National Oceanographic Data Center and made available to other agencies and research groups, including the National Hurricane Center, the US Navy, and the oil and gas industry.