Oct. 19–BP says it has begun production ahead of schedule at one of its major projects in the Gulf of Mexico.
It’s an expansion of the company’s Thunder Horse field, one of the Gulf’ largest, about 160 miles southeast of Port Fourchon.
The so-called Northwest Expansion will boost production at the Thunder Horse field by about 30,000 barrels of oil per day at its peak, company officials said today. That will bring total production in the field to more than 200,000 per day.
Originally planned for start-up in early 2019, company officials said the project, completed at 15 percent less than the budgeted cost, is the latest sign of BP’s continued momentum in the U.S. offshore region.
“This latest expansion of Thunder Horse is another important milestone in our efforts to maximize value from our assets in the Gulf,” Starlee Sykes, regional president of BP’s Gulf business, said in a news release. “Over the past five years we’ve driven up production through safe and reliable operations and bringing on new deepwater projects in a more efficient and standardized way. All this hard work is now delivering results. Our Gulf of Mexico business is thriving.”
BP owns 75 percent of Thunder Horse, Exxon owns the rest. The platform sits in more than 6,000 feet of water and began production in June 2008. It has the capacity to handle 250,000 barrels of oil and 200 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.
The new expansion, which begin producing oil 16 months after being sanctioned, adds a new subsea manifold and two wells tied into existing pipelines two miles north of the existing Thunder Horse platform. It comes after two similar expansions at Thunder Horse in as many years.
It is the latest example of a trend in which offshore oil companies drill several deep-sea wells then transfer the oil to existing platforms then later onshore by pipeline.
Louisiana economist Loren Scott and other observers have said for years that tiebacks, while lowering the cost of Gulf oil production, have stripped business from major employers in the Houma-Thibodaux area that build and service the platforms.
“Historically, when a field was discovered, exploration companies would invest millions to billions of dollars on a massive tension leg platform (TLP) or spar that would float above the field to harvest the oil in the field,” Scott says in his latest economic forecast, which he delivered to local business groups last month. “Many fabricators in this region did very well building these TLPs or component parts of them. …
“This TLP-to-tieback shift is clearly not good for the fabrication business in this region.”
Houma has a “long road back” to anything akin to the vibrant economy it enjoyed before a global crude glut caused oil prices to plummet and local jobs to vanish, the report suggests.
The area has lost roughly 16,000 jobs — about one of every six — since mid-2014 as low crude prices sparked layoffs and work slowdowns throughout the oil industry.
Scott projects the metro area, comprised of Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes, will gain 700 jobs, 0.8 percent, next year. It will add another 2,100 jobs, 2.4 percent, in 2020, driven largely by gains in oil and gas.
— Executive Editor Keith Magill can be reached at 857-2201 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @CourierEditor.
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