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Lloyds List: Shell pushes the boundaries with its ultra deepwater Gulf oil production

Lloyds List; Oct 27, 2006
Martyn Wingrove

ROYAL Dutch Shell will be the first to produce oil from the ultra deepwaters of the US Gulf of Mexico after launching its Perdido project.

The Anglo-Dutch oil major, with partners Chevron and BP, plans to break the world’s water depth record by installing a spar drilling and production platform in around 8,000 ft of water by 2010.

Shell will develop the Great White, Tobago and Silvertip fields in the Alaminos Canyon area of the Gulf of Mexico using subsea wells tied back to the process and export hub.

‘The Perdido Foldbelt is remote and located in ultra deepwaters from 7,500 ft to 10,000 ft,’ said Marvin Odum, Shell’s head of upstream operations in the US. ‘To accomplish this record-breaking feat, we will apply cutting-edge technology and engineering expertise.’

The proposed spar platform will be centred over the Great White field and will be capable of producing 130,000 barrels of oil per day.

London-listed Shell beat analyst predictions with its underlying profits thanks to high oil prices and improved liquefied natural gas volumes, but its overall earnings were less than in 2005.

It reported earnings of $6.9bn in the third quarter compared with $7.2bn for June to September last year, which included divestment gains of $1.7bn.

Taking away Shell’s sale of pipeline assets held through Gasunie in the Netherlands in 2005, earnings were 33% higher in this year’s third quarter.

‘Our earnings have proven to be resilient in the face of rising industry costs and weakening refining margins,’ said Shell’s chief executive Jeroen van der Veer.

‘LNG growth has been impressive in the quarter and our upstream volumes have grown despite the shut downs in Nigeria,’ he said.

Shell’s output of liquefied natural gas soared 19% to 2.94m tonnes as it raised capacity from Nigeria and the Qalhat LNG plants, while its hydrocarbon production rose slightly to 3.25m barrels of oil equivalent per day.

In the quarter Shell commissioned the Altamina regasification terminal in Mexico and secured the first gas production from New Zealand’s Pohokura field.

Its capital investments in the third quarter, excluding $600m on Sakhalin II, were $5.5bn, pushing up expenditure for the whole year so far to $16bn, plus $1.4bn on Sakhalin projects.

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