Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

System Developed by BP, CONOCO for Deep-Water Field Production

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

System Developed by BP, CONOCO for Deep-Water Field Production

Article excerpt

HOUSTON -- A new subsea oil production system developed by British Petroleum Co. and Conoco Inc. in the Gulf of Mexico is cutting costs enough to make production from deep-water fields around the globe economically viable.

The equipment in the deep-water Pompano field incorporates measures to reduce the costs of maintaining the oil wells and an extensive equipment-testing program to reduce shutdowns of the seabed equipment once it is installed.

"We had to optimize the design up front and build in sufficient flexibility to cope with the unexpected," said David Clarke, a senior BP Pompano design engineer.

"We tested the daylights out of it."

The Pompano field lies 24 miles east of the Mississippi Delta in 1,865 feet of water.

A fixed production platform, which is supported by steel legs, was installed in shallower water over the field in 1994. A year later, subsea production facilities for the second phase were placed on the sea bed 2.8 miles (4.5 kilometers) southeast of the main platform.

Production from the subsea module began earlier this month. Production from the main platform began in October 1994, and BP estimates there are 118 million barrels of oil left in the field.

In oil and gas producing basins around the globe, the use of subsea production systems linked to an existing platform greatly reduce the costs of field development.

Advances in technology -- such as maintenance-free manifolds -- let smaller reserves be developed as "satellites" to the main production facilities without requiring the installation of new platforms.

That brings economies of scale as the satellites share the oil or gas production facilities already on the main platform, and considerably lower capital expenditure.

Advances in subsea technology require an integrated approach from design to operation. The Pompano development team hopes to have countered many of the problems the equipment might present before they arise, by involving all sub-contractors at an early stage in the project development to anticipate difficulties. …

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