BP Plc (NYSE: BP) is betting big on the U.S. Gulf of Mexico (GoM), where the company has unveiled a $1.3 billion expansion of the Atlantis Field, exploration efforts have led to two oil discoveries and seismic imaging has uncovered 1 billion more barrels of oil in place near an existing field.
The British company, which aims to grow its net GoM production to about 400,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d) in the next decade, shared the news Jan. 8. The move serves as further proof that the GoM continues to rebound and maintain the interest of the world’s biggest energy players.
“We can see many opportunities for further development, offering the potential to continue to create significant value through the middle of the next decade and beyond,” Bernard Looney, BP’s upstream chief executive, said in a company release.
BP credited the development to recent breakthroughs in advanced seismic imaging and reservoir characterization. The technology, called full waveform inversion, combined with supercomputing power and a proprietary algorithm led to the discovery of an additional 400 million barrels of oil in place at Atlantis.
The expansion project, called Atlantis Phase 3, will include constructing a new subsea production system from eight new wells that will be tied to the existing platform which stands in more than 7,000 ft of water.
A final investment decision on the project is expected from partner BHP, which holds a 44% interest, in early 2019.
If all goes as planned, the project will increase production by about 38,000 boe/d.
Production is scheduled to start in 2020, but two more phases of the development could be in store.
BP puts net hydrocarbons initially in place at the Atlantis Field at an estimated 1.7 billion boe. As of year-end 2017, about 11% of that had been recovered. That is expected to grow—thanks to technologies such as 4-D ocean bottom nodes (OBN) seismic and distributed acoustic sensors—with plans for the new field underway plus the potential for additional phases and a water injection expansion.
Discovered in 1998, production began at Atlantis in 2007.
“Atlantis Phase 3 shows how our latest technologies and digital techniques create real value—identifying opportunities, driving efficiencies and enabling the delivery of major projects,” Starlee Sykes, BP’s regional president for the Gulf of Mexico and Canada, said in the statement.
The same seismic technology was used at the Thunder Horse Field, where BP said Jan. 8 it has identified another 1 billion barrels of oil in place. The company said it plans to acquire additional seismic at both fields using OBN and its proprietary Wolfspar seismic technology, which uses ultra-low frequencies to see under deep layers of salt.
BP spokesman Jason Ryan told Hart Energy that BP is using full waveform inversion technology in other parts of the world, including the Caspian Sea and North Sea. The technology could also be used offshore Angola.
More than 10% of the Thunder Horse Field’s 2.9 billion boe net estimated hydrocarbons initially in place have been recovered. Potential growth opportunities come with a new south shallow field in addition to a second south expansion and water injection expansion, according to BP.BP further added to its success in the GoM with news of two oil discoveries. The Manuel discovery hit oil in Miocene sandstone reservoirs. The discovery will be tied back to the Na Kika platform. BP did not say how much oil was found.
The other discovery, Nearly Headless Nick, also hit oil in the Miocene sandstone reservoirs. Plans are for it to be tied back to the Delta House facility. Nearly Headless Nick will be brought online in 2019, according to operator LLOG Exploration. Partner Kosmos Energy reported in October 2018 that the prospect was drilled to a total depth of 5,807 m (19,052 ft) and hit 26 m (85 ft) of net pay.
Both discoveries are located in the Mississippi Canyon area of the GoM. BP has a 50% interest in Manuel with partner Royal Dutch Shell Plc (NYSE: RDS.A). The company has a 20.25% interest in Nearly Headless Nick with partners LLOG Exploration Co. LLC, Kosmos Energy Ltd. (NYSE: KOS) and Ridgewood Energy.
Other major GoM projects underway by BP include Mad Dog Phase 2, which is on budget and on track to startup in late 2021. Costs for the project, which includes a new floating production platform called Argos, have already been cut to about $9 billion from the initial $20 billion. Currently, construction of the platform’s hull is underway at Samsung Heavy Industries in South Korea and development wells are being drilled at the field.
The new platform will have the capacity to produce, from 14 wells, up to 140,000 barrels per day (Mbbl/d) of gross crude oil, compared with the existing platform’s production capacity of up to 80 Mbbl/d of gross oil.
BP, the biggest oil producer in the GoM, said it has grown its production in the region since 2013 by more than 60% to over 300,000 boe/d.
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