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Deepwater Mars B Platform Designed to Extend Production to 2050 and Beyond

Royal Dutch Shell plc has ramped up production from the second Mars platform in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico (GOM), the company's seventh and largest floating platform in the U.S. offshore.

Mars, operated by Shell (71.5%) with partner BP plc (28.5%), began producing in 1996. The new Olympus structure, "Mars B," is positioned within a few miles of Mars and Shell's Ursa platform. Olympus is the first deepwater project in the GOM to expand an existing oil and natural gas field with significant infrastructure.

The Mars B extension in Mississippi Canyon, about 130 miles south of New Orleans, is expected to extend the life of the entire basin to 2050 and beyond. Combined future production from Olympus and the original Mars platform is estimated to deliver a resource base of 1 billion boe.

"With two large platforms now producing from the deepwater Mars field, this project demonstrates our deepwater project delivery and leadership," said Shell Upstream Americas' John Hollowell, executive vice president for deepwater. "We safely completed construction and installation of the Olympus platform more than six months ahead of schedule, allowing us to begin production early from the development's first well.

"Olympus is the latest, successful start-up of our strong portfolio of deepwater projects, which we expect to generate substantial value in the coming years. Deepwater will continue to be a core growth opportunity for Shell."

The Olympus platform is in Mississippi Canyon uses a tension-leg platform with 24 well slots and a self-contained drilling rig. The Mars B development includes subsea wells at the West Boreas and South Deimos fields, export pipelines, and a shallow-water platform at West Delta 143, near the Louisiana coast. Olympus sits in 945 meters (3,100 feet) of water.

"Using the Olympus platform drilling rig and a floating drill rig, additional development drilling will enable ramp up to an estimated peak of 100,000 boe/d in 2016," management said. "The Mars field produced an average of over 60,000 boe/d in 2013."

Progress also continues in the GOM on the 50,00 boe/d Cardamon project (100%), scheduled to begin producing this year. Work is underway also on the deepwater Stones development (100%), which is expected to produce around 50,000 boe/d.

Construction of Mars B involved more than 25,000 people, Shell said. With its ramp up, about 192 people are to live and work on the platform.

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