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Williams Partners to Build Floating Spar for Hess

Williams Partners LP (WPZ) has been awarded a contract by Hess Corp. to provide production handling services in the Tubular Bells field of the deepwater Gulf of Mexico (GOM).

The partnership said Tuesday it would use its proprietary Gulfstar FPS, a floating production system (FPS), which would be able to process up to 60,000 b/d of oil and 200 MMcf/d of gas.

WPZ would design, construct and install the system, which could serve as a central host facility for other deepwater prospects in the area. Hess operates the Tubular Bells field.

"Gulfstar is intended to be another tool that deepwater producers can deploy for field developments that utilize proven and reliable wet-tree technology," said Rory Miller, who is president of WPZ's midstream business. "This Gulfstar project expands our deepwater export, gathering and production handling business in the Gulf.

"This agreement demonstrates the value that deepwater producers place on reducing cycle time and costs. It also reflects the commercial benefit of our reputation for reliability -- both in our deployment of innovative solutions and in our operations. We are delivering a solution that has positive, meaningful bottom-line impact for producers."

The spar-based FPS uses traditional three-level topsides mated to a "classic" spar hull, which is expected to allow customers to reduce their cycle time from discovery to first production, said the partnership.

Gulf Island Fabrication Inc., through its subsidiary Gulf Marine Fabricators, would construct the hull portion of Gulfstar in Corpus Christi, TX. The topsides portion of the FPS also is to be awarded to a Gulf Coast fabricator, "making this the first spar-based floating production system to be built entirely in the U.S. Gulf Coast area," WPZ officials said.

Hess has a 40% stake and is operator of the Tubular Bells field. It doubled its interest in the field last October in a deal with BP plc, which gave it a 40% stake as well as the operatorship. BP still owns a 30% interest, while Chevron Corp. owns the remaining stake.

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