Shell Oil Co. has begun producing from the Cardamom deepwater discovery in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM), its second subsea startup this year.

The Auger tension leg platform (TLP) serving the well 225 miles southwest of New Orleans is producing 50,000 boe/d, and once at full capacity would be able to produce up to 130,000 boe/d. Cardamom is in Garden Banks Block 427 in water more than 2,720 (800 meters) deep. It was sanctioned in 2011 (see Daily GPI, June 10, 2011).

“Cardamom is a high-value addition to Shell’s production at the Auger platform and is another example of our excellence in deepwater project delivery,” said Upstream Americas Director Marvin Odum. “The work to extend the production life of our first deepwater, TLP is impressive and involved advanced exploration and development technology. Our additional opportunities in deepwater mean that this will remain an important, high-return growth area for Shell.”

The Cardamom reservoir sits beneath thick layers of salt in rock more than four miles below the sea floor that had gone undetected by conventional seismic surveys. Advanced seismic imaging in 2010 allowed the company to drill beneath a salt deposit and into the reservoir.

Cardamom marks the Auger platform’s seventh subsea development. Auger had been slated to be decommissioned in 2008, but the Cardamom discovery in 2010 gave it new life, Shell officials noted. Auger was upgraded with a process train and weight mitigation that increased liquid handling, cooling and production capacity of the host facility. The completed subsea system includes five well expandable manifolds, a dual eight-inch flowline and eight well umbilicals.

Shell’s Mars B project, which it majority owns and partners with BP plc (71.4%/28.5%), ramped up in February (see Daily GPI, Feb. 4). Other deepwater GOM growth for Shell now underway includes Stones (100%, 50,000 boe/d) under construction; front-end engineering and design for Appomattox (80%); and the recent Rydberg discovery in the Norphlet play (see Daily GPI, July 15). Further appraisal also is planned in 2015 the Mars basin at the Kaikias discovery.