Shell moves forward on new Gulf of Mexico development at Stones. Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG - May 12, 2013 Shell’s current Auger Platform Tension-leg platform (TLP) floats 170-miles off the US coast at a water depth of 2,860 ft. In terms of TLP’s, Auger is #13 on the list of Ultra-Deep water rigs. This past Wednesday, Shell announced it has made a final investment decision in the Stones ultra-deepwater project, a Gulf of Mexico oil and gas development expected to host the deepest production facility in the world. This decision sets in motion the construction and fabrication of a floating production, storage, and offloading (FPSO) vessel and subsea infrastructure. According to the company, the development will start with two subsea production wells tied back to the FPSO vessel, followed later by six additional production wells. This first phase of development is expected to have annual peak production of 50,000 barrels of oil equivalent (boe)/day from more than 250 million boe of recoverable resources. The Stones field has significant upside potential and is estimated to contain over 2 billion boe of oil in place. The Stones field is located in 9,500 feet of water, approximately 200 miles southwest of New Orleans, Louisiana, and was discovered in 2005. The project encompasses eight US Federal Outer Continental Shelf lease blocks in the Gulf of Mexico’s Lower Tertiary geologic trend. Shell has been one of the pioneers in the Lower Tertiary, establishing first production in the play from its Perdido Development. John Hollowell, Executive VP for Deepwater, Shell Upstream Americas: The FPSO System design was selected to safely develop and produce this ultra-deepwater discovery, while addressing the relative lack of infrastructure, seabed complexity, and unique reservoir properties. With an FPSO, tankers will transport oil from the Stones FPSO to US refineries, and gas will be transported by pipeline. The launch of the Stones development is a key milestone as Shell continues to grow deepwater exploration and development in the Gulf of Mexico, having made significant progress recently on the Mars-B development project with the arrival of the Olympus tension leg platform. Shell is also in the concept selection phase for the Appomattox and Vito discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico. Shell holds 100% interest and will operate the Stones development. Soon to be the world's tallest structure? With much talk about the spire being added to the Freedom Tower in NY making it the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere last week and the Burj Khalifa being the tallest "skyscraper" in the world, located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates with a staggering height of 2,717 feet, both fall way short… Guinness World Records recognizes an oil platform as the "world's tallest structure" and that one platform is the Magnolia TLP operated in the Gulf of Mexico by ConocoPhillips. Its total height from the seabed up to the top of platform is 4,698 feet. But like a late night infomercial host, “That’s not all folks.” Beneath the ocean floor is where the real work begins and the Magnolia’s deepest well has a total depth of 17,435 feet beneath the sandy bottom! The total height from bottom of the well to the top of the platform is > 22,000 feet. Conoco Phillips Magnolia Ultra-Deep Water Rig under construction This was 2003 just prior to its deployment. With Stones, the ocean floor is 9,500 feet below the waves and only Shell has a prediction as to how far below the ocean bottom they will have to drill to reach pay dirt. Or in this case, Black Gold, Texas tea as kin folk of Jed used to say. Previous Total Depth Record The infamous Deepwater Horizon ultra-deepwater oil rig drilled the deepest oil well in history at a vertical depth of 35,050 ft in the Tiber Oil Field at Keathley Canyon block 102, approximately 250 miles southeast of Houston. It was located in 4,132 feet of water. Unfortunately the blowout and subsequent release was the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history and will be remembered for decades if not century's. And wait until you hear what Exxon is going to do in the Gulf of Mexico in 2016... We'll post that one maybe tomorrow.