Photos: At sea with Shell and the landmark Mars B project

GULF OF MEXICO — About 130 miles south of New Orleans, Shell Oil Company is funneling billions of dollars into the Mars B field in hopes of pumping out billions more.

The company has touted the project, expected to produce more than 100,000 barrels of oil a day at its peak, as one of its most important startups this year. By comparison, Shell netted 180,000 barrels daily from the Gulf of Mexico last year.

About 340 people are at work in the Mars B field aboard the Noble Bully drillship and the massive Olympus production platform. Just a mile away from Olympus is the original Mars production platform which began pumping oil from the field in 1996 and is one of the oldest platforms in the region.

The new effort is a renaissance for the Mars field and Shell’s first major play in the region since the Obama administration’s post-oil spill moratorium on drilling was lifted there.

To read more about Shell’s landmark endeavour, check out FuelFix energy reporter Ryan Holeywell’s full story on

On FuelFix, you also can learn more about the the 18,000-mile journey of the Olympus hull, which was hauled through multiple bodies of water last year from its construction site in South Korea. The towering structure met up with its topsides at a shipyard near Corpus Christi, Texas, before tugboats towed it out to the Mars field.