The Independence Hub production platform has set sail from Corpus Christi, TX, for a five-day trip to the deepwater Gulf of Mexico (GOM), where it will be installed in about 8,000 feet of water — the deepest offshore platform to date. The hub is expected to ramp up in the second half of 2007, with the capacity to increase natural gas production from the GOM by 1 Bcf/d (see Daily GPI, Oct. 23, 2006).

The hub, which is 80%-owned by Enterprise Products Partners LP and 20%-owned by Helix Energy Solutions Group Inc., will be located about 150 miles southeast of Venice, LA, in Mississippi Canyon Block 920. It will be the GOM’s largest offshore gas production platform, as measured by production capacity.

“The Independence Hub represents one of the most innovative and well coordinated solutions ever for economically developing significant Gulf of Mexico natural gas reserves that would otherwise have remained stranded,” said Enterprise CEO Bob Phillips. He said the “sail away brings us closer to completing this important infrastructure project…”

Mechanical completion of the platform at the installation site is expected by mid-March. The platform, once installed, will earn annual fixed-demand fees of $55 million ($44 million to Enterprise; $11 million to Helix). In addition to the demand fees, the platform and the associated 134-mile Independence Trail natural gas pipeline, which is 100%-owned by Enterprise, are expected to generate net incremental gross operating margin of about $17 million a year from volumetric fees for each 100 MMcf/d of production.

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