Royal Dutch Shell Co. expects to restore about 60% of its total upstream production to pre-Hurricane Katrina levels during the fourth quarter, or 270,000 boe/d compared to 450,000 boe/d, but warned remaining Gulf of Mexico oil and natural gas production, mainly from its prolific Mars platform, related Ursa unit and the Mensa and Cognac developments, "may not be feasible during the fourth quarter, depending on options available for recovery." Shell's output now stands at 160,000 boe/d.
Before Katrina struck, Mars was producing 100-150 bbl/d of oil and about 150 MMcf/d of gas. According to a Minerals Management Service (MMS) production rate projections through 2002, Ursa's daily production capacity was projected at 150,000 bbl/d of oil and 400 MMcf/d of gas. Mensa's daily production capacity was projected for 300 MMcf/d, and Cognac's is 83,000 bbl/d and 129 MMcf/d.
The Mars Unit, approved by the MMS in December 1992, encompasses all or a portion of six Outer Continental Shelf leases in the Mississippi Canyon Area -- Blocks 762, 763, 806, 807, 850 and 851 -- located about 130 miles southeast of New Orleans. The leases were acquired by Shell in 1985 and 1988 for $5.3 million. Shell Deepwater Production Inc. is operator and has a 71.5% interest in the project, and BP plc has the remaining 28.5% interest. Production began July 8, 1996.
The Mars' tension leg platform (TLP) is installed on Block 807 in a water depth of 2,940 feet. Current production facilities are designed to recover about 500 million boe.
Oil from Mars is transported 116 miles via an 18/24-inch diameter pipeline to the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port's storage at Clovelly, LA, and its 55-mile 14-inch gas pipeline goes to Venice, LA, which also was damaged during the hurricane. Both pipelines were installed as part of the Mars development.
The damaged WD 143 is a hub facility for deepwater oil and gas production, located in 390 feet of water, about 90 miles from New Orleans. The facility is operated by Shell Exploration & Production Company (SEPCo), and is owned by SEPCo ( 71.5 %) and BP (28.5%).
Next to Mars is the Ursa TLP, which is under development in Block 809 in 3,800 feet of water. It encompasses Mississippi Canyon Blocks 808, 809, 810, 852, 853 and 854. Working interest owners are Shell, operator, with 45%, BP, 23%, ConocoPhillips, 16% and ExxonMobil Corp., with 16%.
The Cognac Unit encompasses four Mississippi Canyon leases -- Blocks 108, 151, 194 and 195 -- and is located about 105 miles southeast of New Orleans in 1,025 feet of water. Shell holds majority interest, 34.87%, with partners including BP, 21.8%; Agip, 16.5%; Sonat, 10.7%; Chevron Corp., 6.9%; Unocal (pre-merger with Chevron), 4.7%; Murphy Oil Co., 2.4%; ConocoPhillips, 1.2%; and Koch, 1.1%.
The working interest owners acquired the leases in the March 1974 OCS lease sale for a total of $295.3 million, and the discovery well was drilled in July 1975. A total of 12 exploration wells were drilled. Oil is transported 28 miles via a 12.75-inch diameter pipeline to South Pass 25. A 16-inch gas pipeline was installed by Southern Natural Gas Pipeline Co. in 1981 and runs 20 miles to South Pass Block 22, where it ties into the Southern Natural Gas Romere Pass Pipeline.
The Mensa Subsea Development is 100%-Shell owned. It is located in 5,300 feet of water, 140 miles southeast of New Orleans, and encompasses Mississippi Canyon Blocks 686, 687, 730 and 731. Mensa initially consisted of three wells connected via individual 6-inch jumpers to a subsea manifold five miles away, which is then tied back to a shallow-water platform at WD 143 via a 63-mile 12-inch flowline. The 68-mile tieback is the longest in the world.
Shell developed and began production from Mensa's fourth well in 2003. Transocean's Marianas drilled Mensa 4, which features a larger completion from the previous three wells, but draws from the same sands.
Shell noted production is now flowing and ramping up from all Shell-operated assets in the western Gulf at Auger, Brutus, Bullwinkle, Cougar, Enchilada, North Padre Island and West Cameron 565. In the eastern Gulf, Shell's Fairway asset and Yellowhammer Gas Processing Plant near Mobile Bay, AL are operating normally.
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