Post-Macondo regulations slow even Shell’s Mars B drilling

HOUSTON – Royal Dutch Shell executives said Tuesday new regulations that require weekly testing of the emergency equipment that failed in the massive 2010 Gulf oil spill have added as much as a month to drilling time at its massive new offshore project.

Shell’s Olympus platform, one of the largest offshore facilities in the world, is expected to reach peak production of 100,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day at its Mars B field in the Gulf of Mexicoin 2016. It expects to start production from its third of six subsea Olympus wells later this year, boosting production from its current 40,000 barrels per day.

If the European oil giant had launched the Olympus platform before 2010, it would have shaved 30 percent of the drilling time from its production, Shell executives said in a round table discussion with reporters Tuesday during the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston.

Gulf resurgence: New oil platforms rise high to reach deep

The Olympus platform was the biggest new Gulf project to come online after BP’s Macondo well blew out and spilled millions of barrels of oil into the ocean, spurring on several new well-head regulations. The blowout preventer sitting on the Macondo well head failed.

“When we have the luxury of looking back over the last four years, we have been seeing an increase in well durations because of the new regulations around more testing and more blowout preventer certification,” said Arno Van Den Haak, an executive with Shell International.

Haak said at least four Transocean rigs contracted by Shell have been outfitted with two blowout preventers to prevent significant downtime in drilling.

Also on FuelFix:

On engineers’ playground, OTC oddities dazzle the layman