Pushing the Deepwater Frontier: Shell's Stones Project

Pushing the Deepwater Frontier: Shell's Stones Project

In late August, French oilfield services firm Technip announced it had been awarded a contract by Shell Offshore Incorporated to lay the world's deepest gas pipeline.

The work will be part of Royal Dutch Shell plc's 100 percent-owned and operated Stones project, which will see a production facility installed under 9,500 feet of water in the Walker Ridge area of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico – some 200 miles from New Orleans. So far, the world's deepest production platform is at the Independence project in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

"What we're trying to do is open up a new development play in the Gulf of Mexico: the Paleogene development. So, Stones is really pushing that deepwater frontier. We've pushed it a bit with Perdido and we're looking to push it even further with Stones," Curtis Lohr, Shell's project manager in charge of the Stones development, told Rigzone in a recent phone interview.

Stones was discovered in 2005 and is estimated to hold more than two billion barrels of oil equivalent. After the final investment decision to go ahead with developing the field was made in May of this year, the first phase of development will see peak production of 50,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) from more than 250 million barrels of oil equivalent (MMboe) in resources.

The first phase will see two subsea production wells tied back to a floating storage, production and offloading (FPSO) vessel. In later phases, Shell plans to add six more wells.

"The Stones development consists of a mid-sized Suezmax-size FPSO with an eight-well subsea system. We'll have eight wells in Phase One, with the first two wells available for first oil in 2016," Lohr said.

The subsea development will include the usual subsea trees at the well locations, as well as a gathering manifold, umbilicals and risers.


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A former engineer, Jon is an award-winning editor who has covered the technology, engineering and energy sectors since the mid-1990s. Email Jon at jmainwaring@rigzone.com


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