BP plans for significant growth in deepwater Gulf of Mexico

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BP has approved a major expansion at the Atlantis field in the US Gulf of Mexico and has also identified significant additional oil resources that could create further development opportunities around the production hubs it operates in the region.

The $1.3bn Atlantis Phase 3 development is the latest example of BP’s strategy of growing oil production through its existing production facilities in the US Gulf of Mexico. Approval for this latest development came after recent BP breakthroughs in advanced seismic imaging and reservoir characterisation revealed an additional 400mn barrels of oil in place at the Atlantis field.

While BP has
reached a final investment decision (FID) on Atlantis Phase 3, co-owner BHP is expected to make a FID in early 2019. BP is the operator of Atlantis, holding a 56% working interest, with BHP holding the remaining 44%.

Atlantis Phase 3 will include the construction of a new subsea production system from eight new wells that will be tied into the current platform. Scheduled to come onstream in 2020, the project is expected to boost production at the platform by an estimated 38,000 boe/d gross at its peak. It will also access the eastern area of the field, where the advanced imaging and reservoir characterisation identified additional oil in place.

The proprietary algorithms developed by BP enhance a seismic imaging technique known as Full Waveform Inversion (FWI), allowing seismic data that would have previously taken a year to analyse to be processed in only a few weeks. Application of this technology and reservoir characterisation has also identified a further 1bn barrels of oil in place at the Thunder Horse field.

Following a successful field trial at the Mad Dog field, further advanced seismic imaging with ocean bottom nodes and BP’s proprietary Wolfspar seismic acquisition source is being planned for Thunder Horse and Atlantis to better understand the reservoirs. Wolfspar uses ultra-low frequencies during seismic surveys, allowing geophysicists to see deeper below salt layers and enabling better planning of where to drill wells.

BP has also announced two oil discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico, at the Manuel and Nearly Headless Nick prospects. The Manuel discovery is located on Mississippi Canyon Block 520, east of the BP-operated Na Kika platform. BP is expecting to develop these reservoirs via subsea tie-back to the Na Kika platform. Its partner in the Manuel discovery is Shell, which holds a 50% working interest.

BP also has a 20.25% stake in the Nearly Headless Nick discovery located on Mississippi Canyon Block 387, operated by LLOG. It is expected to be tied back to the nearby LLOG-operated Delta House facility.

Over the last five years, BP’s net production in the Gulf of Mexico has increased by more than 60%, rising from less than 200,000 boe/d in 2013 to more than 300,000 boe/d today. The company is currently the top oil producer in the region and anticipates its production growing to around 400,000 boe/d through the middle of the next decade. This growth will be supported by recent project start-ups, including Thunder Horse Northwest and Thunder Horse South expansions, and the Thunder Horse water injection project, as well as the addition of a second platform (Argos) at the Mad Dog field, which is on budget and on schedule to come onstream in late-2021.

Future potential developments at BP’s offshore fields in the Gulf of Mexico include Atlantis Phase 4 and 5, further developments at Thunder Horse, Na Kika subsea tie-backs and Mad Dog field extensions.

Photo: Atlantis platform
Source: BP

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