NEW ORLEANS – The recent successful completion of the Who Dat project in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico saw several notable “firsts” for offshore development, said Rick Fowler, Vice President of LLOG Exploration, Tuesday morning at the Deep Offshore Technology International Conference & Exhibition in New Orleans.
Fowler’s presentation, “The ‘Who Dat’ Development – Evolution of a Project from Lease Sale to First Production,” was part of a panel of major offshore operators who addressed the challenges in developing deepwater projects.
For the Who Dat field, the notable achievements included the first floating production storage (FPS) unit in the Gulf of Mexico in the post-Macondo era; the first use of the OPTI-Ex FPS design; the first use of an FPS built “on spec”; and the first use of a privately owned FPS in the world.
One particular challenge of using the novel OPTI-Ex FPS design, Fowler said, was that in the immediate wake of the Macondo incident, it was not clear when – or indeed even if – development in the GoM would resume. For this reason, the US Coast Guard would not review the new design; so, LLOG brought in ABS to help review and approve the facility.
Another Macondo-related challenge was that, with the drilling moratorium, LLOG was limited to the data it had already obtained from just three exploratory wells. “The field unexpectedly moved into completion mode,” Fowler commented.
Despite this limitation, LLOG decided to move forward to the completion phase with the data that it had in hand.
As work in the GoM resumed with the lifting of the moratorium, LLOG found that the Who Dat field – originally estimated to be primarily gas – had significant oil reserves as well. “Things have gotten more ‘oily” with further development,” Fowler observed. The company now believes that the field holds 300 MMboe.
And, Fowler said that the “flexible” design of the OPTI-Ex facility allowed LLOG to accelerate field development. It was less than one year between the selection of the facility to field development.
Today, the oil export line is in place, with the gas export line to come. First production is set for November.