While the world will need to develop multiple energy resources to meet the energy demand, oil and gas will continue to play a significant role and deep water is a crucial part of the mix.
Shell believeS innovation holds the key to successfully unlocking oil and gas from deep water safely and responsibly.
The offshore oil and gas industry has gone from zero to nearly 10,000 feet, or 3,500 metres, of water depth in the past 100 years.
Early efforts adapted traditional concepts to offshore requirements and, later, led to platforms fixed to the bottom of the ocean to produce oil and gas.
Shell was the first to use semi-submersible drilling rigs that have evolved further since. These fixed platforms are still used today.
Bullwinkle in the Gulf of Mexico was the tallest one in the world. Installed by Shell in 1988 and setting a new water depth record back then of 1353 feet, or 412 metres.
A major milestone was the leap from fixed to floating structures that are moored to the seabed, lighter, and more buoyant. Auger in the Gulf of Mexico was Shell’s first floating structure.
The Perdido platform in the Gulf of Mexico rests on a floating spar structure moored in 8,000 feet, or 2450 meters of water, and is currently the world’s deepest drilling and production platform.
Shell’s Stones project, currently under construction, is expected to surpass Perdido’s depth record using a floating vessel and tanker to produce and transport oil while field development continues.
Shell has used the same floating vessel concept in the Parque das Conchas (BC-10) project in Brazil to deliver production growth.
Another innovation is processing equipment on the sea floor. These subsea systems reduce weight on the platform and enable the pumping of oil in cases where oil is difficult to move on its own pressure. And they allow production from smaller fields that otherwise would not be economically viable.
Seismic technology and visualisations have provided a quantum leap in Shell’s ability to explore for new geological plays and discover new resources near existing fields.
These technologies led to the discovery of millions of barrels of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, areas previously thought to be dry, extending their production and lifespan by decades.
Also drilling rigs have come a long way. Shell is collaborating with drilling contractors to deliver a new generation of drilling rigs like the Bully drillships. These are shorter, lighter, feature advanced on-board safety systems and consume less fuel.