Royal Dutch Shell Plc  .com Rotating Header Image

THE NEW YORK TIMES: Shell to Reopen Platform in Gulf

Shell to Reopen Platform in Gulf

Published: April 21, 2006

Eight months after Hurricane Katrina shattered American oil output in the Gulf of Mexico, the largest producer in the region, Royal Dutch Shell, said yesterday that it had completed repairs on its Mars platform and would resume production ahead of schedule.

Mars, the biggest offshore structure in the gulf, was among the hardest hit by the storm that struck on Aug. 29. Production should start up again next month, Shell said, and the Mars platform is expected to return to producing 140,000 barrels of oil and natural gas a day, its level before the storm, by the end of June. Initially, the company estimated that repairs might last well into the second half of the year.

Shell's announcement came as oil futures rose in New York above $70 a barrel this week, and might provide the market with a small measure of comfort that large quantities of oil would soon be returning. Mars accounts for about 5 percent of the Gulf of Mexico's output.

Crude oil for May delivery settled at $71.95 yesterday, down 22 cents, on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It touched a high of $72.40 a barrel earlier in the day, exceeding an intraday mark of $70.85 reached after Hurricane Katrina.

The Mars platform was directly in the path of the storm and suffered extensive damage from 80-foot waves driven by winds with speeds up to 175 mile an hour. A 1,000-ton drilling rig on top of the platform was toppled, shattering the upper decks and living quarters and forcing Shell to close the platform.

The repairs included fixing two underwater pipelines linking it to shore that had been crushed by a drifting anchor. Replacing those involved an industry first — a repair job performed by a pair of robotic submarines at a sea depth of 2,700 feet.

More than 500 people took part in the repairs, logging 600,000 hours of work. To house everyone close to the platform, Shell chartered a six-story floating hotel and linked it to Mars with a pontoon.

The company estimated the costs associated with the hurricane, including the evacuation and displacement of its employees and the repairs to its property, at $250 million to $300 million. Shell owns 71.5 percent of Mars. BP owns the rest.

With the next hurricane season officially beginning June 1, more than 22 percent of the gulf's oil production, or some 334,000 barrels a day, remains unavailable because of storm-related damage, according to the latest statistics from the federal Minerals Management Service.

Daily natural gas production is down 27 percent, or 1.3 billion cubic feet. Since August, nearly 150 million barrels of oil and 730 billion cubic feet of natural gas have been lost as the result of Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Rita.

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.