Shell Offshore Inc. says that October 15, 2018, marked 40 years of deepwater operations in areas ranging from the US Gulf of Mexico, then to Brazil, Nigeria, Malaysia, Mexico, Mauritania, and the Western Black Sea.
During those 40 years, the company says that it has supported the growth of the offshore oil and gas industry through the development of numerous exploration and production technologies.
Shell says that its global presence began with a 1970s prospect, 105 miles southeast of New Orleans: the Cognac field in the US Gulf of Mexico. “What happened at Cognac in 1978 set Shell up for success in deepwater in the decades to follow,” said Rick Tallant, Vice President, Production, Deep Water Gulf of Mexico.
In 1978, Shell brought the Cognac oil and gas field into production in 1,025 ft of water. Cognac was deeper than any previous offshore discovery and marked the first time that an energy company pushed the frontiers of deepwater beyond the 1,000-ft water depth.
To develop this field, the company designed and built the world’s tallest and heaviest drilling and production platform. When Shell acquired Cognac in a lease sale, the prospect was far beyond the depths common for the industry at that time.
A vessel to drill in more than 1,000 ft of water did not yet exist. Shell says that it translated teamwork and innovation into history-making accomplishments. After Cognac, the American Society of Civil Engineers presented Shell with the Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement, the first ever awarded to an energy company. By 1982, Cognac was producing 72,000 boe/d.
Shell says that it continued to lead the deepwater industry with more record-breaking, pioneering efforts following Cognac. From Auger, the world’s first tension leg platform, to Stones, the world’s deepest offshore oil and gas project, Shell says that its team in the Gulf of Mexico has consistently found ways to make the seemingly impossible, become possible.
“This remains a heartland for US energy production,” noted Tallant. “Our operations here in the Gulf of Mexico account for more than 50percent of Shell’s oil and gas production in this country.”