Mars Platform Production to Resume Ahead of Schedule

Shell Exploration & Production Company is ahead of schedule to restart production from its Mars Tension Leg Platform (TLP). To signal resumption, Shell began to notify the appropriate Gulf of Mexico mid-stream transportation, marketing businesses and downstream customers to secure sales for initial, post-Katrina, oil and gas production. Mars is the largest producing platform in the Gulf of Mexico that was affected by Hurricane Katrina, representing about 5 percent of current Gulf of Mexico daily production.

"Reviving this vital energy source for America prior to the peak summer driving season would not have been possible without the tremendous work of the Shell team," said Marvin Odum, Executive Vice President and head of Shell Exploration & Production in North and South America. "The Mars platform recovery and deepwater pipeline repairs were among the most technologically complex operations in the world, and our people were up to the task, completing the work safely and ahead of schedule."

Based on progress to date, Shell expects that construction activity necessary for initial production at Mars will be complete by the end of April. A brief re-commissioning and start-up process will follow, and partial production is expected to resume in the second half of May. Mars production is expected to be restored to pre-Katrina rates by the end of June.

By the end of 2005, Shell had repaired all of its hurricane-damaged facilities except Cognac and Mars, restoring over 75 percent of its total pre-Katrina production rate.

The Mars TLP and wells survived the extreme Katrina weather conditions, but the platform drilling rig and some major elements of the topsides production equipment were heavily damaged. In restoring the Mars TLP and its Pipelines, Shell accomplished unprecedented repairs in the oil and gas industry:

    - Three months of preparation, planning and work on-site led to the
      successful lift of the damaged, 1,000-ton, Mars platform rig in two
      pieces from its awkward toppled position on the platform deck.  The
      damaged sections of the rig were transported to shore for repairs.

    - The rig was removed without damaging the important High Pressure Gas
      treatment vessel that was under the rig, an accomplishment that helped
      to shorten the recovery time at Mars.

    - Experienced engineers, construction specialists, technicians and other
      support staff accomplished an industry-first deepwater pipeline project,
      successfully repairing the Mars oil and gas export pipelines in 2,700
      feet of water using underwater robotics to execute tasks normally
      performed by divers in shallow waters.  The oil and natural gas export
      lines were damaged as a result of a drifting semi-submersible deepwater
      drilling rig that dragged an anchor across the lines during the storm.
      The 18-inch oil line and 14-inch gas line have both been repaired, and
      integrity testing has been successfully completed.  Both lines are
      commissioned and ready for service once Mars production resumes.

      In addition, the Mars flexjoint (the pipeline connection to the TLP)
      repairs, scheduled prior to the 2005 hurricane season but delayed due to
      loop currents, were completed during the Mars recovery effort.

    - To accommodate the living quarters and deck area needed to perform the
      varied work tasks, Prosafe Offshore's Safe Scandinavia accommodation
      semi-submersible journeyed from the North Sea to the Gulf of Mexico for
      the first time.  The six-story vessel with lodging for over 500 people
      successfully deployed the Shell supplied Deepwater mooring system in
      record water depth for this vessel.

"Many of the talented individuals who have restored this important asset were dealing with their own personal recovery, yet they never wavered in their commitment to help Shell restore its operations and increase our country's energy production," added Odum. "I am proud of the Shell team and all the staffs from Louisiana, the Gulf Coast Region and around the world that rallied to provide the resources to accomplish this goal."

Shell operates the Mars platform with a 71.5 percent working interest; BP has the remaining working interest.

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