TOP 5 PROJECTS
Shell expands presence
in deepwater GoM with Mars B
Project said to have largest TLP ever deployed to the Gulf
Shell’s Mars B project, located in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, produced frst oil in the frst quarter of this year. It is the frst time that signifcant infra- structure has been added to an existing deepwater feld in the Gulf, says Shell.
Located in the Mississippi Canyon area in
3,000 ft (914 m) of water some 130 mi south
of New Orleans, Mars B is the lone entrant
from the GoM in this year’s Top 5 projects.
The original Mars feld has been operating since 1996, producing roughly 700 MMboe to date. But the size of the opportunity
in the development area made it economical
to build and deploy a new, second TLP to the
area. Shell estimates that there are 1 Bbbl
left in the area.
The Mars B project will add new infrastruc-
ture to develop the Mars feld and nearby ex-
ploration discoveries. This new infrastructure
• The Olympus TLP, with 24 well slots and
a self-contained drilling rig
• The West Boreas/South Deimos sub-
• An oil and gas export system, including
a West Delta (WD)-143C shallow-water
The key to the project has been the Olympus TLP, which is now moored about one mi
( 1. 6 km) from the existing Mars platform. In
another industry frst, the 120,000-ton structure is said to be the largest TLP ever developed for the GoM.
Shell notes that the Olympus TLP is more
than twice as “big” as the original Mars TLP.
Weighing over 120,000 tons, the TLP is heavier than 300 Boeing 747 Jumbo Jets. From
the base of the hull to the top of the derrick,
Olympus is 406 ft tall, approximately 1. 5 times
the height of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome
in New Orleans, which stands 253 ft in height.
The combined deck area on the Olympus is
342,000 sq ft, greater than the total foor area
of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, which is
269,000 sq ft. The column spacing on the TLP
is 250 ft (center/center) – a similar footprint
to One Shell Square in New Orleans. The tension legs of the platform are ftted with 16 rotationally lined caissons coated with modifed
The new TLP hosts a 24-slot drilling unit
supplied by Nabors Industries and includes
capacity for six subsea wells to gather production from the nearby West Boreas and
South Diemos felds via tieback. The reservoirs are located at depths of 10,000 ft
to 22,000 ft, approximately 2 to 4 mi below
sea level. Olympus, outftted with 15,000 psi-rated trees furnished by FMC Technologies,
will concentrate on high-pressure reservoirs
that range in depth from 20,000-22,000 ft.
The subsea production system includes:
• A 3-mi tieback to the Olympus TLP
• A six-well 15 kpsi subsea tieback
• A six-slot production manifold
• Dual 8-in. fowlines
• Flexibility to connect future subsea devel-
These facilities are expected to extend the
life of the feld to 2050 and beyond.
In developing Mars B and its other deep-water assets, Shell was able to draw upon a
rich deepwater history that goes back to the
Cognac development in 1978, and up to the
existing Perdido facility, the current world
record holder for deepwater operations.
Olympus is Shell’s sixth and largest TLP
in the GoM, and uses a passive hull concept
that incorporates lessons learned from the
Perdido spar, with regard to the shape of the
column and placement.
Shell made use of time lapse seismic tech-
nology to delineate the Mars B feld. This
included use of ocean bottom sensor tech-
nology, including ocean bottom nodes and
wide azimuth acquisition techniques. Use
of these technologies, in turn, led to bet-
ter placement of infeld wells, and a better
understanding of waterfood performance.
This will help increase overall recovery.
For the drilling phase, Shell selected Noble
Corp.’s Noble Bully I to drill the top sections of
The Olympus platform (foreground) now sits next to Shell’s original Mars platform (background) in
the Mississippi Canyon area in the Gulf of Mexico. (Photo courtesy Shell)