The US Minerals Management Service issued a proposed Notice of Sale for Lease Sale 174 in the western US Gulf of Mexico. The sale is tentatively scheduled for August 25 in New Orleans. The sale includes 3,642 blocks covering almost 20 million acres in the OCS planning area offshore Texas and in deeper waters offshore Louisiana. The blocks are 9-200 miles offshore in water depths of 8-3,000 meters. Of the 3,642 total, 2,120 are in water depths of 200 meters or more. The minimum bid for blocks in water depths less than 800 meters is $25/acre. Minimum bid on deeper waters is $37.50/acre.
The Brutus TLP was designed to serve as a future hub facility. Its topside will be able to process 100,000 b/d of oil and condensate, 300 MMcf/d of gas, and 30,000 b/d of produced water.
Shell plans Brutus hub potential, development
Shell Exploration & Production (SEPCo) announced it will develop its 1988 Brutus discovery, located on Green Canyon blocks 158 and 202 in water depths between 2,750 ft and 3,300 ft. Eight wells will be batch set using a semisubmersible rig, beginning in the third quarter. Further development wells will be drilled with a contract platform rig.
The total number of wells necessary has not yet been determined. Production will be via an 8-slot tension leg platform (TLP), scheduled to be installed in 2,985 ft water depth in mid-year 2001. Brutus is designed to serve as a hub for future subsea projects in the area.
Shell Deepwater Development Systems will design and engineer the 3,250 ft high TLP. The 13,500-ton hull is made of four circular steel columns, 66.5 ft in diameter and 166 ft high. Pontoons connect the columns, which will be 35.5 ft wide and 23 ft high with a rectangular cross section. The 22,000-ton deck will have dimensions of 245 ft square and 40 ft high. Five modules are planned: process, drilling, power, quarters, and wellbay. There will be 12 2,900-ft tendons, three per corner, with a diameter of 32 in. and a wall thickness of 1.25 in. The tendons will be connected to 12 piles at the base of the TLP foundation system. The topsides will contain complete separation, dehydration, and treatment facilities designed to process 100,000 b/d of oil and condensate, 300 MMcf/d of gas, and 30,000 b/d of produced water.
Production will begin late in 2001. Oil production will be transported 26 miles via an 18-in. pipeline to South Timbalier 301B platform, where it will be connected to the existing Amberjack System. Gas production will be transported 24 miles via an 18-in. pipeline to be connected to the Manta Ray Offshore Gathering System. Tejas will own the pipeline. It is estimated the project should cost less than $900 million, including pipelines. The target reserves are in the Plio-Pleistocene sands at 12,500-17,500 ft subsea. Ultimate gross recoverable reserves from Brutus are estimated at more than 200 million boe. Peak production will be 100,000 b/d of oil and 150 MMcf/d. SEPCo owns 100% of the project. Brutus is located not far from Popeye and Troika projects.
Macaroni mishap causes no delay
While the J. Ray McDermott vessel DB-50 was laying the second flowline from Shell's Macaroni project in Garden Banks 602 to the Auger TLP on Garden Banks 426, a cable snapped high in the J-Lay tower and 4,000 ft of flowline fell to the seafloor. The event occurred on April 16. A spokeswoman for J. Ray McDermott said the blame has been assigned to an outdated lay process rather than a faulty cable. Macaroni is being developed using three subsea wells tied back 12 miles to the Auger TLP.
The umbilicals and the other flowline for the project had already been laid, and six miles of this flowline had already been laid when the incident occurred. A thruster went out because of the jolt. Once it was repaired, the DB-50 began recovery operations of the apparently unharmed flowline. The recovery reportedly was completed on May 10. Shell says the event should have no effect on Macaroni's onstream date, now scheduled for July.
IPAA's offshore group recommends actions
The Independent Petroleum Association of America's Offshore Committee has proposed guidelines for regulation of offshore development, noting that in order to drill one offshore well, an operator must comply with 90 regulations and acquire 15 permits. Further, less than 6% of total offshore acreage is available for leasing and several promising areas are subject to a moratorium. This, despite the fact that offshore supplies 18% of US total daily production and 27% of daily gas production.
The committee suggested two major policy goals - encouraging development of indigenous resources, and enhancing the economics of exploration and development. Policies needed to attain these goals suggested by the committee include:
- Opening up promising areas for exploration and development
- Decreasing regulatory burdens and stream lining reporting
- Developing environmental compliance standards based on scientific evidence
- Providing incentives for capital acess and formation
- Improving the benefits of sliding scale royalties and severance taxes
- Extending leases and deferring plugging and abandonment for uneconomic production
- Taking excesses out of the value chain.
Seitel Geco survey to be world's largest
Seitel and Schlumberger Geco-Prakla signed a letter of intent to form a three year joint venture with options for two more years to perform nonexclusive, 3D-4C seismic surveying work in the US Gulf of Mexico in water depths to 500 ft. Seitel has selected a total of 444 blocks in nine US Gulf areas to be surveyed. Geco-Prakla will perform the surveys. Both companies will secure underwriting for the individual surveys.
The agreement reportedly prohibits either company from conducting non-exclusive, 3D-4C seismic surveying work in the US Gulf of Mexico in water depths to 500 ft outside the joint venture. The joint venture will not shoot any survey on spec. Seitel said the JV will begin its first survey in September. The two companies stated that the survey will be at least eight times larger than any previous survey conducted around the world.