DEEPWATER CASE STUDIES
Shell recently celebrated several major milestones for Malikai as it moves closer to entering production, when it will become the company’s second op- erated deepwater project in Malaysia
In June, the Technip–Malaysia Marine and
Heavy Engineering (MMHE) joint venture
(TMJV), contracted by Shell in February
2013, concluded onshore fabrication and commissioning operations. The 27,500-metric ton
TLP then began its 1,400-km (870-mi) excursion from the MMHE West fabrication yard
at Pasir Gudang in Peninsular Malaysia to the
Malikai field, which lies in the South China
Sea some 100 km ( 62 mi) off Sabah.
The TLP was transported by the Dockwise
heavy-lift vessel White Marlin, according to fellow contractor InterMoor, which was responsible for the marine aspects of its float-off and tow.
These milestones behind it, a spokesperson
for Shell based in Kuala Lumpur recently told
Offshore that it anticipates first oil in 2017.
Tophole drilling was completed last year,
and Shell has slated the primary drilling campaign to take place this year. This campaign
will be conducted from aboard the platform using a separate tender-assisted drilling (TAD)
unit, helping to keep project costs down by
skipping the need for a bigger platform. In doing so, the operator has claimed it is the first to
couple a TLP and a TAD.
Yun Yun Teo, principal analyst, Asia-Pacific rigs for IHS Markit, told Of fshore that the
tender-assist unit SKD Esperanza is set to
start development drilling very soon – possibly departing KFELS by the end of August
– on a charter of 18 months plus options.
Malikai consists of two main reservoirs,
Kinarut and Kamunsu- 2, in water depths of
around 500 m ( 1,640 ft). Located in the block
G PSC, awarded by Petronas in 1995, a peak
annual production of 60,000 b/d is anticipated.
Shell (35%) and partners ConocoPhilips Sabah (35%) and Petronas Carigali (30%) took the
final investment decision (FID) for Malikai
Although a deepwater project, it will produce
through the shallow-water Kebabangan (KBB)
platform, located about 50 km ( 31 mi) away.
The TLP is designed to partially process the
gross production before it moves on to KBB,
where it will be further processed before being
sent onshore to the Sabah Oil & Gas Terminal.
Shell says the TLP is believed to be the
first to be fabricated and installed in Malaysia. It also marks its first such platform outside the Gulf of Mexico.
Beyond these firsts, the TLP comprises
several specific, unique types of technologies that are designed to enable cost-control
and simpler operations.
Production wellheads are on deck and connected directly to the subsea wells by what
Shell describes as rigid risers. The company
believes this will allow for simpler well completion; better production control from the reservoir; and easier access for downhole intervention operations. Malikai’s risers are also
multiuse, instead of requiring two differing
sets for drilling and production.
The Norshore Atlantic, then on its second
campaign, began drilling Malikai’s topholes in
September 2014, finishing last January. During this operation, a riser-less mud circulation
system by IKM Group was installed to remove
drilling fluids at the well openings.
Also to control costs, Shell said that the Malikai project team reused eight tendon support
buoys from its Mars B project in the Gulf of
Mexico. The buoys temporarily hold the ends
of mooring tendons, or tethers, in place until
they can be connected to the platform during
Dril-Quip was awarded a contract to supply
subsea wellheads, tensioner systems, risers,
production trees, injection trees, and tieback
connectors shortly after Malikai’s final invest-
ment decision was taken in 2013.
The TLP’s 13,800-metric ton ( 15, 212-ton)
topsides were skidded onto the platform legs
in the MMHE West yard last summer. For
this, Shell, Petronas, and TMJV partnered
with ALE, which had been responsible for the
platform assembly operation (Offshore, August 2016). The operator said the “Superlift”
was the world’s highest jacking and skidding
operation for a platform of its scale.
Driven to deepwater
While only a short time has passed since the
Malikai FID, those few years are significant.
In early February 2013,Brent indexed at
more than $116/bbl. At the time of this writing, it has settled at a wan $48/bbl, dipping
once again below the $50/bbl tipping point to
which the industry has struggled to adapt as
its new breakeven price.
Despite this, most of the entities with a stake
in Malikai’s success remain firmly committed
to deepwater development. A recent PWC
report entitled “The Malaysian oil and gas
industry: Challenging times, but fundamen-
tals intact,” named deepwater as one factor in
Malaysia’s three-pronged approach to unlock-
ing local reserves as it continues to establish
itself as a regional oil and gas hub. Along with
Petronas, PWC noted that Malaysia “remains
poised to continue exploiting its yet-to-be fully
tapped deepwater potential.”
Shell has actually strengthened its focus
on deepwater despite the market crisis. In
June, Shell CEO Ben van Beurden said that
it would significantly cut capital spending
between now and 2020 – but prioritize deep-
water production, with its global output ex-
pected to double in that timeframe. •
Sarah Parker Musarra
The Malikai development’s
tension leg platform is a first
for Malaysia, and Shell’s first
such platform outside of the
GoM. (Image courtesy Shell)
nd gas hub