Delta House Has Potential to Enhance Offshore Design Philosophy

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ENGINEERING, CONSTRUCTION, & INSTALLATION 100 Offshore May 2015 • 'One-size-fits-most' approach could transform platform design A nother revolution is in the works for offshore oil and gas production – one caused by a new semisubmersible production platform named after the home of the boisterous college fraternity in the 1978 comedic film, "Animal House." The 21st-century Delta House is a deepwater floating production system, built to extract hydrocarbons from the Mississippi Canyon area in the Gulf of Mexico. Average water depth is approximately 4,500 ft (1,372 m), and reservoirs range from 12,000 to 18,500 ft (3,658 to 5,629 m). The facility was designed for a production rate of 80,000 b/d of oil, 200 MMcf/d (5.7 MMcm/d) of gas, and 40,000 b/d of water. First oil is expected in mid-2015. The field development is an example of how independent, privately- held companies that once focused on shallow-water opportunities are now wading into deeper waters. Moreover, these companies seem to be taking their fast-moving, "shallow-water" ways with them into water depths that have long been the domain of the deep-pocketed majors. Reasons for the transformative nature of Delta House go back to early 2010, when a group of joint venture partners began to realize the potential of their recently-acquired portfolio of leases. The challenge was how to drill them in less than 36 months before the 20 or so deepwater leases timed out. The one-time presidential lease suspension of operations reset the clock to give more time, but it would still require a big effort to maintain the leases. Getting a head start One of the distinctions used in the case of Delta House was project scheduling. In addition to the leasehold considerations, participating company LLOG Exploration Co. (LLOG) has long had a priority of generating a speedy return on investment (ROI). To meet its ROI goals and secure future investments elsewhere, the company developed an accelerated production schedule for the project. It also had to meet the requirements of regulatory authorities, including the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and the US Coast Guard as well as the classification requirements of Det Norske Veritas. To accomplish this, LLOG worked with external resources, such as Audubon Engineering Solutions, which served as the topsides engineering contractor on the project. Most major oil and gas companies active in offshore activities will take the time-honored approach, which involves discovery, delineation wells, and studies of the reservoir characteristics. This is followed by front-end engineering and design (FEED), requesting several bids for production platform types, which may include provision for a drilling rig included on the production platform. Only then, detailed design and construction would begin. The goal of LLOG's approach was to shorten the timeline for faster production. This included starting work on the engineering of the production platform even before a discovery was made. The designers' Denis Taylor Audubon Engineering Solutions Rick Fowler LLOG Exploration Co. Delta House is a semisubmersible FPS that will have an initial production capacity of 80,000 b/d of oil and 200 MMcf/d of gas. (Photos courtesy Audubon Engineering Solutions) Delta House has potential to enhance offshore design philosophy

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