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Royal Dutch Shell announced on Tuesday that it started production in its ultra deepwater fields in the Gulf of Mexico, according to an official statement posted on the company’s website.
The Stones site lies 200 miles southwest of New Orleans and will produce an estimated 50,000 barrels of oil per day by the time it operates at full capacity at the end of 2017.
Almost 9,500 feet underwater, the project is the world’s deepest oil and gas extraction effort to date and has been organized and funded completely by the Anglo-Dutch firm.
“Stones is the latest example of our leadership, capability, and knowledge which are key to profitably developing our global deep-water resources,” Andy Brown, Upstream Director for Royal Dutch Shell, said in a statement. “Our growing expertise in using such technologies in innovative ways will help us unlock more deep-water resources around the world.”
The statement said the innovations that occurred in order to make the project a reality would deliver up to $1 billion in cost savings once all wells are completed.
The floating production, storage and offloading vessel (FPSO) has also been designed to withstand natural disasters, the company said.
“In the event of a severe storm or hurricane, [the FPSA] can disconnect and sail away from the field,” the statement read. “Once the weather event has passed, the vessel would return and safely resume production.”
The project will also allow marine scientists from the University of Southern Mississippi and other institutions to extract new data about marine life and water currents deep in the Gulf of Mexico. Researchers are particularly interested in measuring how climate change has affected the world’s oceans in recent years.
"Just imagine what we can learn by collecting deep-ocean research data in the same spot for the life of the project - maybe as much as 25 years,” Dr. Pak Leung, a company oceanographer, told Inside Energy, a Shell publication.
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…