With net zero carbon targets high on the agenda for oil and gas companies, subsea tiebacks are being introduced to lower the carbon intensity of new developments, efficiently leveraging production capacity at existing facilities. Chevron seems to have struck gold on this front with the Ballymore Project—despite some early difficulties.

Discovered in 2018, the Ballymore field is a low-carbon tieback development located about 160 miles southeast of New Orleans on Mississippi Canyon Block 607 that will tie back to Chevron’s Blind Faith facility 3 miles away. 

It is a “thick and high quality” reservoir, said Neil Menzies, general manager of major capital projects in the company’s Gulf of Mexico business unit.

Neil Menzies, Chevron
(Source: Energy Bangla)

“That's a key part of characterizing the reservoir and understanding the resources and how we best develop that. We get a better image of the reservoir relative to a conventional streamer seismic survey.”—Neil Menzies, Chevron

Ballymore’s development also created a few challenges for Chevron as well.

“We're in a reservoir that's more than 27,000 feet below sea level, so that in itself is relatively challenging. We're in 6,600 feet of water,” Menzies said. “Another challenge for Ballymore is around the fluid properties and flow assurance that we need to address—asphaltenes, hydrates and halites—and mitigating those effectively.”

The loop current is also an issue that operators working in the Gulf of Mexico must take into account.

“[The loop current] is something we consider carefully when we're looking at installation planning to ensure that we can execute safely. That's just something that we deal with on a regular basis,” Menzies said.

Field development

Prior to the final well selection, Chevron used ocean-bottom node (OBN) technology to collect state-of-the-art seismic data to better image the Ballymore field. It is now using OBN seismic more broadly in the Gulf of Mexico to get high-quality imaging of the reservoir.  

“That's a key part of characterizing the reservoir and understanding the resources and how we best develop that,” Menzies said. “We get a better image of the reservoir relative to a conventional streamer seismic survey.” 

Worley, OneSubsea, Subsea 7, Aker Solutions and Gulf Island are helping develop the field. Worley handles designs for both the subsea and topside scope of work on the project. OneSubsea delivers subsea equipment, while Subsea7 installs a steel catenary riser, the flowline control system and other subsea components for the Ballymore field. Aker Solutions focuses on the umbilicals for the field, and Gulf Island fabricates and installs the structural and piping modifications to the Blind Faith platform.

Project timeline

Structural modifications and pipe installation were carried out in late January, and Chevron announced its final investment decision on the Ballymore subsea tieback project in May 2022. With operations progressing as planned, first oil in the Ballymore Field is expected in 2025. Chevron operates the field with 60% interest, while partner TotalEnergies holds a 40% interest.

Chevron is targeting potentially recoverable resources of over 150 MMboe at Ballymore.

Ballymore is not the only project keeping Chevron busy in the Gulf of Mexico. The supermajor is participating in Shell’s Whale development and BP’s Mad Dog Two development, as well as two other large projects it is operating in the Gulf.

“Ballymore is obviously an important project for us, but we also have the Anchor project, which is a new facility that we're working toward first oil in 2024,” Menzies said. “We’re also on the fourth stage of Jack/St. Malo development.”