Shell Exploration & Production Co. said last week that the Mars Tension Leg Platform (TLP) is currently producing 190,000 boe/d (gross), which is a 20% increase over pre-Katrina rates. As announced in late May, the Mars TLP resumed production ahead of schedule earlier this summer and was even producing slightly above its pre-Katrina rates in July (see NGI, May 29).

The Mars platform is connected to the Mississippi Canyon pipeline. It was producing 150-170 MMcf/d of natural gas and 150,000 b/d of oil prior to Katrina.

According to Shell, the Mars platform sat in “Katrina’s eye” for about four hours, absorbing 80-foot waves and wind gusts exceeding 200 mph. The TLP floating structure and wells survived the extreme Katrina weather conditions, but the platform drilling rig and some major elements of the topsides production equipment were heavily damaged (see NGI, Feb. 13).

“Many of the talented individuals who have restored this important asset were dealing with their own personal recovery, yet they never wavered in their commitment to help Shell restore its operations and increase America’s energy production,” said Marvin Odum, executive vice president, EP Americas.

In repairing the facility, Shell said it took three months of preparation and planning to successfully lift and remove the damaged Mars platform rig in two pieces from its awkward, toppled position on the platform deck. Lifting the toppled drilling rig structure was an industry first, the company said.

“It takes a major engineering feat to lift a 670-ton tangled steel structure from a web of knotted facilities and processing equipment,” the company stated. “Another first was repairing the oil and gas pipelines 3,000 feet below the water’s surface, utilizing the Shell Deepwater Repair Kit. Being able to repair the pipelines on the sea floor meant repairs were finished much earlier than using a traditional method.”

Shell said repairing the platform involved a workforce of 500 people and represented more than one million man-hours, during which time there were no recordable injuries.

According to the Minerals Management Service’s final report June 19, a total of 935.7 MMcf/d of Gulf of Mexico natural gas production was still off-line because of damage caused by hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma in 2005. On the oil side, 179,970 b/d of oil production was still shut in on that date.

Since Aug. 26, 2005, a total of 803.6 Bcf of natural gas production has been deferred due to the storms, which equates to just over 22% of the annual gas production from the Gulf (3.65 Tcf). A total of 166.3 million bbl of oil was shut-in, which is equivalent to 30.377% of the yearly production of oil from the Gulf (547.5 million bbl).

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