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9,627 feet: Shell Gulf well sets deep-water record
Fuel Fix ^ | November 18, 2011 | Simone Sebastian

Posted on 11/18/2011 5:51:15 AM PST by thackney

Shell Oil Company has broken its previous record for the world’s deepest underwater well, the company announced today.

A well in the Gulf of Mexico has set a global record for oil production in deep water, Shell Oil Co. said Thursday.

Shell says it is producing oil from a well 9,627 feet below the surface of the Gulf, a depth more than six times greater than the Empire State Building’s height. It exceeds by 271 feet the depth of the previous record-holder, also a Shell project in the Gulf.

Both wells operate through the Perdido drilling and production platform, 200 miles southwest of Houston. The new record-holder is in the Tobago Field, which Shell jointly owns with Chevron and Nexen, according to the company. The previous record-holding well was in the Silvertip field.

The Perdido platform is moored in 8,000 feet of water, which the company says makes it the world’s deepest-water drilling and production platform.

The company did not say how much the new well is producing, but said the daily capacity of the platform is 100,000 barrels of oil and 200 million cubic feet of natural gas.

The Tobago Field well is several miles away from the platform, and the oil flow must follow an incline along the sea floor before being pumped vertically to the platform, Shell spokesman Jaryl Strong said.

Low pressure

Besides the water’s depth, the project posed a challenge because of the reservoir’s low pressure, which necessitated special technology to push the oil nearly two miles up to the platform on the water’s surface.

Shell noted that it did not have the technological ability to produce oil at such depths in 1996 when it purchased the lease where Perdido operates.

Engineers developed a system of electrical pumps embedded in the seabed that help ship the oil to the surface platform, Strong said.

“The industry is moving into these depths,” he said. “As the industry expands the frontier, it is going to have to come up with solutions like this.”

Equipment in the pro-ject included FMC Technologies’ enhanced vertical deep-water tree system and the five electrical pumps that help push the oil to surface, that Houston-based company said.

Shell is majority owner of the Perdido platform. BP and Chevron also have investment shares.

Perdido serves wells up to seven miles away, Shell said. The company began development drilling in 2007 and oil and gas was first produced in 2010.

Don Van Nieuwenhuise, director of petroleum geoscience programs at the University of Houston, said the achievement has global implications.

“They’ve brought that water depth into the realm of being technologically and economically viable,” Van Nieuwenhuise said.

He noted, however, that the industry is pushing into depths that challenge existing emergency well control systems. Well control equipment developed in the wake of last year’s disastrous Gulf oil spill are designed for use in up to 10,000 feet of water.

Limits to safety?

“They are getting real close to the limit of what we can do safely,” Van Nieuwenhuise said.

Strong said Shell has addressed the risks of producing oil in deep-water conditions.

“There are a number of safety innovations built into the Perdido platform to accommodate the environment it is in, in terms of the great depths and long distance from shore,” he said. “Safety was the No. 1 priority.”

TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: energy; offshore; oil
Perdido Technical Facts and Firsts

•Deepest water depth record for an offshore oil drilling and production platform

•First water injection in 8,000 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico (Great White GB001) helps push oil through the reservoir, from the injector wells to the production wells.

•First commercial production from the Lower Tertiary geological formation, which many see as the next big opportunity in deep water.

•Deployment of an innovative subsea separation and boosting system that compensates for the low-pressure reservoir and about 2,000 psi of backpressure from the wells. The system includes five specially designed 1,500-horsepower electric pumps embedded in the seafloor to boost production to the surface.

•First spar with direct vertical access wells and production hardware on the seafloor at a depth of more than 8,000 feet

•Perdido weighs 50,000-tons and sits in water six times deeper than the height of the Empire State Building.

•The entire Perdido project has achieved 13 million man-hours without a lost-time injury, testifying to the effectiveness of the safety regimes put in place by the construction and operating teams.

1 posted on 11/18/2011 5:51:16 AM PST by thackney
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To: thackney

It is beyond me how a drill that long could actually work without tearing itself apart. Cool stuff and kudos to American engineering!

2 posted on 11/18/2011 5:58:41 AM PST by TSgt (whenever any Form of Government becomes is the Right of the People to abolish it.)
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To: TSgt

That is only the water depth. The total depth is almost twice that.

In 2004, the well was drilled to a total depth of 18,510 feet (5,642 meters), and then a sidetrack well was drilled to 18,425 feet (5,616 meters).

But there are certainly wells in shallower water that go far deeper in total depth.

3 posted on 11/18/2011 6:07:08 AM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: thackney
I like the way they leased the bloc 10 years before they had the technical ability to do the drilling.

These idiots who carp about the massive profits the oil companies make never look to the unbelievable risks they take and the costs of those risks. Drilling for o/g is gambling for the big boys.

4 posted on 11/18/2011 6:08:37 AM PST by Recon Dad ("The most important rule in a gunfight is: Always win and cheat if necessary.")
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To: TSgt

For comparison, but I’m not sure if this still holds the record in total depth.

The Tiber well in Keathley Canyon block 102, approximately 250 miles southeast of Houston, is in 4,132 feet of water. The well was drilled to a total depth of approximately 35,055 feet and found oil in multiple Lower Tertiary reservoirs.

Read more:

5 posted on 11/18/2011 6:11:27 AM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: thackney

Meanwhile, the Italians are drilling in a few feet of water off the coast of Alaska.

6 posted on 11/18/2011 6:12:11 AM PST by mewzilla (Forget a third party. We need a second one.)
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To: thackney

Good article thackney, I enjoy the reading

7 posted on 11/18/2011 6:40:13 AM PST by wild74
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To: thackney

Impressive. I hope they have a good BOP.

8 posted on 11/18/2011 6:40:57 AM PST by smokingfrog ( sleep with one eye open ( <o> ---)
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To: smokingfrog

They did! Hence, the well is producing.

9 posted on 11/18/2011 7:06:50 AM PST by caprock
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To: caprock

It’s a low pressure well, unlike the BP well, but you need to have a way to shut it down if anything goes wrong - like it breaks loose during a hurricane or something.

10 posted on 11/18/2011 7:18:23 AM PST by smokingfrog ( sleep with one eye open ( <o> ---)
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To: thackney
BUMP to read when I get back... to the surface!
11 posted on 11/18/2011 8:21:00 PM PST by Bender2 ("I've got a twisted sense of humor, and everything amuses me." RAH Beyond this Horizon)
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