Super major Shell is nearing first oil from its latest offshore asset, the Turritella FPSO, which will become the world’s deepest production facility.
The Turritella will be anchored in water depths of 9500 ft (2896 m), in an area of the Gulf of Mexico known as Walker Ridge, around 200 miles (322 km) offshore New Orleans.
The location will put the the FPSO in the record books as the world’s deepest producing facility upon first oil.
The vessel is currently on its way to the Gulf of Mexico, to take up its position, having left the Singapore shipyard where it has recently completed its build.
Shell has had to cross a number of technological hurdles in order to realise the project, The company had to navigate the unique problems with having both a floating production assets at such a depth, and in a location where no infrastructure already exists.
Turritella is noted for utilising flexible risers, known as ‘lazy wave risers’ that had to be developed to cope with the shear depth of water and swell the project engineers anticipate the vessels will experience.
Further, the design of the FPSO incorporates a turret with detachable buoy, allowing the vessel to completely release itself from its moorings and risers should a heavy storm make production unsafe.
Shell is hoping that the production will start from Stones in the first half of 2016. Initially, the field will produce from 8 subsea production wells, tied back to the Turritella FPSO, with peak production expected to be in the region of 50 thousand barrels of oil equivalent per day.
Later phases will see further wells and subsea pumping, to aid production of both oil and gas from the reservoir, which has estimated reserves of around 2 billion barrels of oil equivalent.
Shell said: “Using this floating vessel allows us to address the relative lack of infrastructure, seabed complexity, and unique reservoir properties.”
“Aside from being the world’s deepest facility, it also features an industry-first application of combining a disconnectable buoy with steel lazy wave risers – steel pipe with in-line buoyancy
that absorbs the vessel’s motion and boosts riser performance at extreme depths.”