Royal Dutch Shell announced on Feb. 4 that it started oil production from its “Olympus” platform in the Gulf of Mexico. The company is using the Olympus to drill into its “Mars B” field, located at a depth of 3,000 feet. The Mars field averaged 60,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd) in 2013, but Shell thinks the Olympus can eventually get that rate up to 100,000 bpd. Shell is the operator with a 71.5% stake in the Mars field, and BP controls the remaining 28.5%.
Shell began production of the Mars field in 1996 after originally discovering it in 1989. Shell says Mars has been one of its most important fields over the past decade and a half. It has produced over 770 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe) to date, after the original estimate pegged the entire field at only 700 million boe. With the new platform in place, Shell thinks it can increase production to 1.1 billion boe. Although Shell did not include precise timelines, it says that the Mars field could last until “at least 2050.”
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The milestone is an important one for a company still smarting from a poor earnings report that showed declining profitability and lower production. As Shell regroups, unloads some risky assets, and refocuses on what it considers to be a safer part of its portfolio – the Gulf of Mexico – the announcement of the Olympus platform is no doubt good news for Shell. Moreover, after delays and setbacks in projects in Nigeria and the Arctic, the fact that the Olympus platform came online six months ahead of schedule is a welcome departure from the recent past.
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com