BP adds two more rigs to Gulf of Mexico program

BP PLC has added two more drilling rigs to its deepwater Gulf of Mexico fleet. The company said it now accounts for a record nine rigs in the region.

The West Auriga has started development drilling in Mississippi Canyon’s Thunder Horse field. The ultradeepwater drillship, provided by Seadrill Ltd. under a long-term contract, can operate in as much as 12,000 ft of water. Thunder Horse achieved production of more than 200,000 boe/d in 2008 (OGJ Online, Dec. 22, 2008).

A reconstructed drilling rig has resumed development drilling at the Mad Dog field complex, replacing the platform’s original rig that was toppled and sent to the seafloor by Hurricane Ike in 2008 (OGJ, Oct. 27, 2008, p. 64). The spar was installed in 4,734 ft of water on Green Canyon Block 782 and began production in 2005.

BP said it expects to invest at least $4 billion/year in the gulf over the next decade, focusing on its major deepwater operated production hubs Thunder Horse, Mad Dog, Na Kika, and Atlantis, along with nonoperated production hubs Mars, Ursa, and Great White (OGJ Online, May 2, 2012). The company added that it will continue looking for exploration and appraisal opportunities in the Paleogene and elsewhere.

The company began its Atlantis North expansion in April, with the first of seven additional wells to be tied back to the Atlantis platform. In 2010, BP faced a lawsuit from a former contractor and the nonprofit group Food & Water Watch Inc. (FWW) asking the company to halt operations from the platform.

The parties alleged the company failed to provide complete and accurate engineering documents regarding the platform's subsea components (OGJ Online, May 24, 2010). However, the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement found that unsafe conditions were not created (OGJ Online, Mar. 4, 2011).

Another field expansion will take place at Na Kika after last year’s startup of the Galapagos development, which is tied back to the 130,000 boe/d Na Kika production facility 140 miles southeast of New Orleans in 6,500 ft of water. BP projected that Galapagos production would peak at 60,000 boe/d (OGJ Online, June 12, 2012).

BP also is looking into a second phase of the Mad Dog field. The company let in April 2012 a front-end engineering design contract to Technip for a spar hull and mooring systems (OGJ Online, Apr. 30, 2012).

BP said it has invested more than $55 billion in the US over the last 5 years. The company owns more than 650 leases in the gulf and accounted for 214,000 boe/d in the region in 2012.

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