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Deepwater Gulf of Mexico - America's Expanding Frontier
SOURCE: U.S. Department of the Interior, Minerals Management Service, Gulf of Mexico OCS Region






DEVELOPMENT SYSTEMS

Development strategies vary for deepwater depending on reserve size, proximity to infrastructure, operating considerations (such as well interventions), economic considerations, and an operator’s interest in establishing a production hub for the area.

Figure 41 shows the different systems that can be used to develop deepwater discoveries.

Figure 41. Deepwater development systems. (Click the image to enlarge)
Figure 41. Deepwater development systems.. (Click the image to enlarge)

Table 4 lists the systems that have begun production. In contrast to the MMS field designations used in the 2002 report, table 4 now lists operator-designated project names.

Table 4
Development Systems of Productive Deepwater GOM Projects
Table 4. Development Systems of Productive Deepwater GOM Projects. (Click the image to enlarge)

Fixed platforms (e.g., Bullwinkle) have economic water-depth limits of about 1,400 ft (427 m).

Compliant towers (e.g., Petronius) may be considered for water depths of approximately 1,000-3,000 ft (305-914 m). Tension-leg platforms (TLP’s) (e.g., Brutus and Typhoon) are frequently used in 1,000- to 5,000-ft (305- to 1,524-m) water depths. Spars (e.g., Genesis), semisubmersible production units (e.g., Na Kika), and floating production, storage, and offloading (FPSO) systems (none in GOM) may be used in water depths ranging up to and beyond 10,000 ft (3,048 m).

Figure 42 shows three of these development systems: a TLP, a spar, and a semisubmersible.rther break down the deepwater well counts into exploratory and development wells, respectively.

Figure 42. Three different development systems (left to right): a SeaStar TLP installed at ChevronTexaco’s Typhoon field, a spar
installed at ChevronTexaco’s Genesis Field, and a semisubmersible at Shell/BP’s Na Kika Field (images courtesy of
ChevronTexaco, Shell International Exploration and Production Inc., and BP).. (Click the image to enlarge)
Figure 42. Three different development systems (left to right): a SeaStar TLP installed at ChevronTexaco’s Typhoon field, a spar installed at ChevronTexaco’s Genesis Field, and a semisubmersible at Shell/BP’s Na Kika Field (images courtesy of ChevronTexaco, Shell International Exploration and Production Inc., and BP). (Click the image to enlarge)

A predominant workhorse of the GOM is the spar.

A spar is a vessel with a circular cross-section that sits vertically in the water and is supported by buoyancy chambers (hard tanks) at the top, a flooded midsection structure hanging from the hard tanks, and a stabilizing keel section at the bottom.

Some unique features of a spar include

  • favorable motion characteristics compared with other floating systems,
  • stability (the center of buoyancy is above the center of gravity),
  • cost insensitivity to water depth, and
  • water-depth capability up to 10,000 ft (3,048 m) and beyond.
A spar is held in place by a catenary mooring system, providing lateral stability. Currently, there are three competing versions of spars used in the GOM: classic spar, truss spar, and cell spar (figure 43).

Figure 43. Progression of spar deepwater development systems (image courtesy of Technip-Coflexip). (Click the image to enlarge)
Figure 43. Progression of spar deepwater development systems (image courtesy of Technip-Coflexip). (Click the image to enlarge)

The first generation of spar design is the classic spar.

t is made up of one cylindrical hull that extends to the bottom of the structure and surrounds a center opening.

This opening allows the wellhead to be on the platform and permits both drilling and production operations.

Approximately 90 percent of the classic spar’s hull is underwater.

The first classic spar was installed in 1996 in 1,935 ft (590 m) of water in the

Neptune field. Other examples of a classic spar are Genesis and Hoover. The second generation of spar design is the truss spar. In this design, a truss structure (similar to the space frames used in conventional fixed platforms) replaces the lower portion of the cylindrical hull used in the classic spar. The truss section is lighter than the equivalent cylindrical section of the classic design, providing the following advantages:

  • construction costs are lower than a classic spar of similar size,
  • width of the center opening can be increased to accommodate additional wells, and
  • topside equipment can be expanded to handle additional production.

In 2001, the first truss spar was installed over the Nansen field in 3,680 ft (1,122 m) of water. Other examples of the truss spar are Boomvang, Horn Mountain, and Devil’s Tower. Once installed, Devil’s

Tower will be the deepest spar, operating at a water depth of 5,610 ft (1,710m).

The third generation of spar design is the cell spar. The cell spar’s hull is made up of several identically sized cylinders surrounding a center cylinder. The main advantages of the cell spar design are reduced fabrication and transportation costs.

The tank of a classic or truss spar requires specialized shipyard fabrication (large-diameter, steel-plate rolling machines are required). To date, all classic and truss spars have been constructed in European and Far East shipyards and require transport to the GOM. In contrast, each cylinder of the cell spar, being of a smaller diameter, can be fabricated using rolling machines that are readily available in most U.S. shipyards. Once fabricated, the cylinders are then lined up and welded together.

This entire process can be done in the United States, increasing the number of contractors available for bidding purposes and reducing transportation costs.

The main disadvantage is that the cell spar has no center opening for surface wellheads so only subsea well production is possible.

The first cell spar will be installed in the Red Hawk field in 5,300 ft (1,615 m) of water in late 2004.

Figure 44 shows the different types of production systems installed each year.

Figure 44. GOM deepwater production facilities installed each year (including plans through 2006). Inset shows production
systems for currently producing fields (including subsea systems). (Click the image to enlarge)
Figure 44. GOM deepwater production facilities installed each year (including plans through 2006). Inset shows production systems for currently producing fields (including subsea systems). (Click the image to enlarge)

Data values can be found in Appendix F.[This is an Excel spreadsheet, which takes a while to download. Please be patient.]

At least eight deepwater production facilities (primarily truss spars) are under construction or pending installation at this time.

Figure 45. Crosby Project (MC 899) subsea equipment layout (image courtesy of Shell International Exploration and Production Inc.) (Click the image to enlarge)
Figure 45. Crosby Project (MC 899) subsea equipment layout (image courtesy of Shell International Exploration and Production Inc.) (Click the image to enlarge)




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Cover and Title Page

PREFACE

INTRODUCTION

BACKGROUND

LEASING DRILLING AND DEVELOPMENT RESERVES AND PRODUCTION SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS . . . Feedback