BP starts up Galapagos development in the deepwater gulf

By OGJ editors

This article was corrected June 12 as well as updated with more details from BP.

BP PLC reported that initial start-up of the Galapagos development in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico began on June 3. The project marks the “first major infrastructure development” in the gulf since the Macondo well blowout and oil spill, according to a BP spokeswoman. BP brought Thunderhorse field on production earlier this year.

Last year, Noble Energy Inc., one of BP’s partners in Galapagos, added a third field discovery to the project with Santiago (OGJ Online, June 1, 2011).

The spokeswoman told OGJ that over the next 4 weeks, the three wells in the Galapagos development will be brought online, “one at a time to ensure the proper operation of the new equipment and to gather production data.” She said this step will be followed by full ramp-up of the wells, which is expected in 4-6 weeks. Gross production from Galapagos is expected to peak at about 60,000 boe/d, she said.

Galapagos is one of a series of major upstream developments that the company expects to bring into production this year, BP said. “The start-up of this project in the Gulf of Mexico is one of BP’s key operational milestones for 2012, one of six high-margin projects we expect to come on stream this year,” said Bob Dudley, BP group chief executive officer. “I expect that the operational progress we are now making will deliver increasing financial momentum for BP as we move into 2013 and 2014,” Dudley said.

The Galapagos development includes three deepwater fields—Isabela, Santiago, and Santa Cruz—and increases the capability of a key offshore production hub for BP. The three fields are being produced using subsea equipment. A new production flowline loop has been added to carry output to the nearby Na Kika host facility, a BP-operated platform 140 miles southeast of New Orleans in 6,500 ft of water.

The Na Kika facility, with a production capacity of 130,000 boe/d, has been modified to handle output from the three fields. Full ramp-up of the project is expected at the end of June.

BP’s overall interest in the three-block area that includes the fields comprising the Galapagos project is 56%. Partners are Noble Energy Inc., Red Willow Offshore LLC, and Houston Energy LP. BP is the operator of Isabela field, while Noble Energy operates Santiago and Santa Cruz fields.

The Galapagos development required the installation of new subsea infrastructure, production risers, topsides as well as other modifications.

Over the next 10 years, BP expects to invest at least $4 billion/year on oil and gas development in the gulf, the company said.

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