Shell Offshore Inc. has awarded Paris-based Technip the contract to install a subsea natural gas pipeline structure in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico (GOM) in the Stones field in the Walker Ridge blocks that are part of the prospective Lower Tertiary Trend.

The system, to be built in the Walker Ridge area, would host the deepest floating, production, storage and offloading (FPSO) unit in the world, Shell's first, and only the second in the GOM.

"With greater depths come greater challenges for our clients," said Technip's David Dickson, senior vice president, North America Region, "and we are delighted to help Shell push back subsea frontiers by laying the deepest gas pipeline worldwide."

Shell sanctioned the Stones project (100%) in May (see Daily GPIMay 9). The project, 200 miles southwest of New Orleans, contains an estimated 2 billion boe-plus. Stones was discovered by BP plc in 2005 (see Daily GPIDec. 15, 2005). As envisioned by Shell, the mega project would encompass eight federal Outer Continental Shelf lease blocks in an area where Shell now operates the Perdido natural gas development, which went into service three years ago (see Daily GPIApril 5, 2010).

The first phase of development at Stones is expected to produce an annual peak of 50,000 boe/d from more than 250 million boe of recoverable resources. Development of the Shell-owned and -operated field is to begin with two subsea production wells tied back to the FPSO vessel, followed later by six additional production wells.

Installation is expected in the second half of 2014 by the Deep Blue, Technip's deepwater pipelay vessel. The production system is comprised of dual eight-inch insulated flowlines associated with pipeline end termination and a dual eight-inch steel lazy wave riser. The Stones lateral gas pipeline is comprised of a single eight-inch diameter pipe. Technip's operating center in Houston would be in charge of installing the subsea production system and Stones' lateral natural gas pipeline, inclusive of associated project management, engineering and stalk fabrication.

 Technip also installed the riser system for the first GOM FPSO for Brazil's Petroleo Brasilerio SA -- Petrobras -- in the Cascade field, also in the Walker Ridge area, The FPSO SW Pioneer ramped up last year and is capable of processing up to 16 MMcf/d gas, 80,000 b/d of oil, and it can store up to 500,000 bbl of oil (see Daily GPIMarch 5, 2012).