GOM Platforms: Construction and Destruction

The following article takes a look at production platform installation and removal trends in the Gulf of Mexico from the past several decades. We also look at recent history and determine the most active participants in the platform business. Finally, we look at several upcoming projects in the GOM that will require structure installations in the next six months.

Platform Installs
The number of platforms installed per year has remained relatively stable for the last four decades. The early eighties saw a spike in platform installations but looking throughout the history of the GOM, we can see a steady demand for fixed platforms.

In 1970, the 10 year average for platform installations was 118 platforms installed per year. At the end of 2007, the 10 year moving average was 117 platforms installed per year. The following graph illustrates the number of platforms installed by decade. Based on the number of platforms installed over the last 8 years, we can expect approximately 200 platforms to be installed before the end of this decade.

Just over 100 operators have contributed to 842 new platform installations in the GOM since 2000. The top ten installers for the last 8 years are Chevron, Apache, Cal-Dive (Merged), Bois d'Arc, McMoran, Hydro, El Paso, Helis, Energy Partners, and Hunt Petroleum respectively.

Based on a three year moving average we can expect to see approximately 90 platforms installed in 2008 by various operators.

Upcoming Platform Installs
Utilizing GOMExplorer.com, we can see the details behind several upcoming platform installation projects. The following map and Excel spreadsheet illustrate when and where platforms and other structures are planned to be installed over the next six months.

Download PDF Map

The following operators have plans to install structures between April and September 2008. For a detailed list of planned activities and dates download the Planned Platform Installs Report.xls.

  • Apache

  • Arena

  • Bayou Bend

  • Bois d`Arc

  • Chevron

  • Devon

  • El Paso

  • GOM Shelf

  • Hall-Houston

  • Helis
  • Hunt Petroleum

  • LLOG

  • Mariner

  • McMoRan

  • Northstar Gulfsands

  • Prime Offshore

  • Samson

  • Stone

  • Tana

  • Walter
  • Platforms Removals
    Decommissioning of platforms has become big business for the heavy lift industry. According to the MMS, there have been 2,944 platforms removed since 1973. In 1987 the number of platform removals exceeded platform installs per year and this has remained the case for the last 20 years.

    The average age of a platform removed in the GOM is 16 years. With over 2,300 platforms older than 16 years, platform decommissioning will almost certainly increase over the next decade.

    From 2000 to 2007 the top ten platform removers were Chevron, Apache, Murphy Exploration and Production, Newfield, El Paso, Maritech, Devon, Samedan, and Energy Resources.

    The three year moving average indicates that we should see around 120 platforms removed in 2008. Of course an active hurricane season could easily increase this number.

    With the future of the GOM heading towards deeper waters, we can expect to see the number of fixed platforms installed per year decline as operators rely more on floating production facilities. However, the aging infrastructure on the shelf points towards a boom in decommissioning work.

    For An All-New View of the Gulf of Mexico:
    GOMExplorer is Rigzone's new Gulf of Mexico data system that provides users with online mapping and reporting tools to get an unprecedented view of current and upcoming exploration and production activity in the GOM. For more information about a GOMExplorer subscription, visit www.gomexplorer.com.