HOUSTON, Feb 4 (Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell said on Tuesday it is ramping up production at its newest Gulf of Mexico oil and gas platform, its first to start up after BP Plc's 2010 Macondo oil spill fouled the basin and stopped drilling for months.
Shell's Olympus platform, towed out to sea last summer, is the first of seven new state-of-the-art platforms slated to start pumping Gulf crude to shore through 2016, reversing a decline in output and supplementing the U.S. onshore shale oil boom.
"2014's a big year for us in terms of starting up new production," John Hollowell, Shell's executive vice president for deepwater in the Americas, told Reuters in an interview.
Shell's Olympus sits about a mile (1.6 km) from its Mars platform around 130 miles (210 km) south of New Orleans, and is the company's seventh operated platform in the Gulf. Oil began flowing from its first completed well on Monday.
Shell said Olympus will help push the Mars oilfield's production to 100,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) by 2016. In 2013, the field produced an average of 60,000 boepd, the company said.
Other major Gulf producers with projects slated to start cumulatively pumping more than 700,000 barrels per day in the next two years include Chevron Corp, Anadarko Petroleum Corp and Hess Corp.
Growth in Gulf output will bolster the United States' emerging role as the world's top oil and gas producer, a trend helped by improved deepwater technology and advances in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling that unlock hydrocarbons from tight rock reservoirs in places like North Dakota's Bakken and the Permian of West Texas.
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