The landmark shipment from Nigeria's first deepwater oil discovery involved the pressurized transfer of crude from the Bonga Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel via a nearly two and a half kilometer long dynamic flexible pipe, to the offshore loading buoy and onto the ocean going tanker.
Some 200,000 barrels of crude were loaded onboard the vessel ARION, which completed off take at about 13:30 hours on December 29, 2005 before departing the field.
Commenting on the occasion, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCo) Managing Director Chima Ibeneche said, "We are delighted to be exporting crude from Bonga, following the start-up of production on November 25 2005. It is a technological triumph that Shell is successfully producing oil and gas from Nigeria's deepwater frontier and we have capped that achievement with today's first shipment. It demonstrates Shell's commitment to Nigeria, as one of the world's key energy sources and today marks a major milestone for a project which will deliver long term benefits to Nigeria, to Shell and to our partners".
Oil production at the Bonga facility is expected to ramp up to some 200,000 barrels per day in 2006.
It is significant that shipment was achieved using Bonga's offshore loading buoy - the world's first, largest and most technologically advanced polyester moored deepwater buoy, which was built in Nigeria by Nigerdock.
Located in Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 212, the Bonga concession was awarded in 1993 during the first round of bidding for Nigeria's deepwater frontier acreage. It is operated by SNEPCo (55%) on behalf of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) under a Production Sharing Contract (PSC). SNEPCo has a Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) with Esso (20%) NAE Nigerian Agip Exploration Ltd (12.5%) and Elf Petroleum Nigeria Limited (12.5%) in respect of OPL 212.
Target nameplate production is 225,000 barrels of oil and 150 million standard cubic feet of gas per day, to be attained as soon as possible.
The development cost to first oil for Bonga is some $3.6 billion dollars. The field was discovered and developed by Shell using its technology and deepwater experience, and marks a number of industry records.
The 60 square kilometer field is situated in water depths of more than 1000 meters. Production facilities comprise one of the world's largest Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessels and deepwater subsea infrastructure. The field's initial 16 subsea oil producing and water injection wells are connected to the two million barrel storage capacity FPSO by production flowlines, risers and control umbilicals. Notably, this is the first time inconel clad Steel Catenary Risers have been used on an FPSO anywhere in the world.
The technological feats achieved with Bonga include the fabrication and installation of the world's largest deepwater Single Point Mooring Buoy at Nigerdock in Nigeria. With Bonga's success, SNEPCo has further demonstrated that the Snake Island Logistics Base in Lagos has the capability to support future deepwater offshore business in Nigeria and the sub region. The facilities on Snake Island include a heliport with all the necessary maintenance and support facilities including a search and rescue facility - the first in the country in terms of deepwater operations support.
Nigeria is the eighth largest oil producer in the world. Nigeria possesses the most proved oil reserves in Africa and is also the most prolific producer in the region.
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