Shell Reschedules Shut Down at Mars TLP

Shell Exploration & Production Company reports that it would shut down the Mars tension leg platform (TLP) late in the first quarter of 2005 rather than the previously announced November 4, 2004 date. The rescheduled shut down is for the purpose of replacing the flexjoints on both its oil and natural gas export lines.

The Mars TLP, located in Mississippi Canyon Block 807 in the Gulf of Mexico, was initially shut in on May 22 of this year when Shell discovered damage to the oil pipeline flexjoint. Subsequent inspections of the natural gas line showed signs of deterioration on its flexjoint as well. A decision was made to make temporary repairs to both lines while the flexjoints were refurbished. Production resumed at Mars on June 28. In August, Shell announced that the platform would be shut down in early November for installation of the repaired flexjoints.

"Although the flexjoints are ready for installation, in the current resource constrained environment in the Gulf due to Hurricane Ivan repairs and to not further disrupt crude oil production from the Gulf of Mexico, we made the decision to delay the repair operation until late first quarter of 2005," said Frank Glaviano, Regional Production Director. "The temporary repairs are operating safely and effectively. The weather conditions during the latter part of first quarter 2005 will be conducive to efficiently and safely completing the repairs. This delay is in the best interest of everyone."

It is expected that this repair operation should take approximately two weeks. Shell is the operator of the Mars TLP with a 71.5 percent interest. BP has the remaining 28.5 percent interest in project.