First US-built deepwater drilling and production platform christened

ATP Titan, the first deepwater drilling and production facility built in the US, was christened at Gulf Island Fabrication’s south yard in Ingleside, Texas, on Aug. 26.

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David Paganie
Managing Editor

INGLESIDE, Texas -- ATP Titan, the first deepwater dry tree drilling and production hull built in the US, was christened at Gulf Island Fabrication’s south yard in Ingleside, Texas, on Aug. 26.

The $600-million ATP-operated MinDOC platform lays on its side in a purpose-built graving dock, measuring 600 ft long, 250 ft wide, and 40 ft deep. The $25-million dock is the first in the US built for offshore construction. In October, the 19,000-ton platform will float off the dock and tow to sea. The loadout is expected to take about two weeks.

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The platform will be installed in 4,000 ft of water to service the Telemark Hub in the Gulf of Mexico, which consists of three fields: Mirage (Mississippi Canyon block 941) discovered by Vastar in 1991; Morgus (Mississippi Canyon block 942) discovered by Shell in 2000; and Telemark (Atwater Valley block 63) discovered by Texaco in 2000. ATP acquired the three fields in August 2006.

Long-time supporter of the MinDOC, Robert Shivers, VP Projects, ATP Oil & Gas, said the company had to move quickly into development. “The licenses had expired or were about to expire and the only way to preserve them was to get moving with a development concept. ATP had been in this position before, but the challenge was the properties were in 4,000 ft of water with no pipeline infrastructure.”

ATP’s vision was to develop the Telemark Hub with the MinDOC 3, third generation of the Minimum Deepwater Operating Concept, due to the unavailability of infrastructure in the vicinity and its design advantages over competing concepts, said Paul Bulmahn, chairman and CEO of ATP Oil and Gas.

“ATP selected the MinDOC for its light weight, cost-effective, deepwater design, which looks like a semisubmersible but behaves like a spar in terms of stability and dynamic response to waves. It provides a higher load capacity and enhances stability over previously designed semisubmersibles or spars.”

Its risers are tensioned by a hydraulic system rather than air cans or buoyancy cans commonly used on spars. It incorporates six dry tree wellheads with three pairs of future subsea flowlines. The platform supports full drilling capability, and a processing capacity of 25,000 b/d of oil and 50 MMcf/d of natural gas, with expansion to 100 MMcf/d of natural gas.

“This endeavor took a company with only 63 employees to make it happen, to make this project economically viable,” Bulmahn said.

Bluewater Industries, the general contractor for the project, hired Gulf Island Fabrication on behalf of ATP to build the hull and topsides.

“We had almost 2,000 employees that worked on this project, and I’m proud of all of them,” said Kerry Chauvin, chairman and CEO of Gulf Island Fabrication. About 16,000 tons of topsides were built at the company’s facilities in Houma, Louisiana.

“It started about 10 years ago when our company realized that the shallow water GoM would be non-existent within the next few years, so we began to explore ways to get more into the deepwater. We developed our facilities to handle very heavy loads.

“There were many challenges to overcome in this particular project. It was on a fast-track. What we call design while fabricating, which is everyone’s nightmare, especially a fabricator.”

The flexibility of the design during the construction process is one of the concept’s strengths, William Bennett, president of Bennett and Associates, told Offshore on the sidelines of the event. Bennett designed the MinDOC 3 which was initially conceived by Alden “Doc” Laborde. Laborde holds a portfolio of inventions, including the first transportable semisubmersible rig and the first supply boat.

Industry is increasingly concerned about new infrastructure in the GoM withstanding hurricane-force conditions since Katrina and Rita wreaked havoc, but Bennett said the structure is designed to handle what a Katrina-type storm can dish out. “This is the first structure for the GoM designed to the new criteria following Katrina, the first structure for the central region in the GoM which is the most hostile area, and it’s the first structure that can be moved from site to site.”

ATP Titan will first produce Mirage and Morgus, and later redeploy to Telemark. “The entire platform can be reused except the drilling piles,” Bennett said. With an expected life of 40 years, ATP plans to reuse and redeploy the platform multiple times during its life span.

Bulmahn closed with high expectations. “Telemark Hub will more than double ATP’s production beginning in 2010.”

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Pictured (from left to right): Kerry Chauvin, Paul Bulmahn, Robert Shivers,
William Bennett, and Alden "Doc" Laborde.

Some of the other contractors and sub-contractors mentioned during the event include:

Bass – hull design and engineering
Technip – pipeline installation
Mustang Engineering – detailed engineering and procurement for the topside production facilities
Edison Chouest Offshore – support vessels and ROV services
McDermott – offshore installation of the topsides
Harvey Gulf International – towing and ballast operations
InterMoor – design and installation of mooring
Pegasus – subsea and pipeline engineering
Stress Engineering – hull, mooring, and riser analysis
ABS – hull classification
MHD – riser tensioners
Dril-Quip – riser components
2H Offshore – verified the design, fabrication, and installation of a flexible production riser
MMR Constructors Inc. – furnished the instrumentation support


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