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King-size platform to rise in Gulf

Structure part of Shell’s investment plan

By TOM FOWLER Copyright 2010 Houston Chronicle

Sept. 28, 2010, 11:05PM

Royal Dutch Shell said Tuesday it will build a Gulf of Mexico oil and gas production facility as part of plans to invest $40 billion in North and South America by 2014.

The tension leg platform, tentatively called Mars B, would be a sister platform to the massive Mars platform that’s been in place since 1996. It will have the ability to produce up to 100,000 barrels of oil a day.

“The outlook for deep water remains positive, despite the current drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico,” the Dutch oil giant said in a prepared statement.

No price tag was given for the project, but the first Mars cost about $1.6 billion when it was installed. Shell owns a 71.5 percent stake in Mars B and will operate the platform. BP also owns an interest in the project.

Shell reorganized its North American operations in the past year in a bid to reduce $1 billion in costs. The unit, known as Upstream Americas, is now organized into four groups: heavy oil, onshore gas, deep water and exploration. The $40 billion investment will be spread among the groups.

Shell has about 40 trillion cubic feet of tight gas reserves under its control, with plans to double production from 2009 to 2015 to more than 400,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

In the Gulf of Mexico, drilling activities in 2009 and 2010 added over 500 million barrels of oil equivelant for Shell, including the 2010 Appomattox discovery, which has total resources in excess of 250 million barrels.

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