Oil and gas exploration company LLOG, based in Covington, Louisiana, operates in the depths of the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana border. Despite the company’s relatively small size among oil and gas industry giants, LLOG is the fifth largest operator in the Gulf. The company’s success rate of drilling exploratory wells is 70%, compared to an industry average of approximately 35%.
In 2012, LLOG wanted to achieve production from multiple discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico’s Mississippi Canyon protraction area as quickly as possible. The company developed an unheard-of timeline of just three years to build a new, automated floating production system (FPS) in the deep water off the Gulf of Mexico.
At this time, the company had one successful FPS, called “Who Dat,” producing from nine wells. LLOG studied the underwater landscape, negotiated a final agreement, and began construction of a new FPS, known as the Delta House FPS, to act as a hub in the Mississippi Canyon.
Short Timeline, Unique Challenges
With just 36 months to complete design, implementation and drill, LLOG required an accelerated build schedule. Beginning engineering work prior to oil discovery in the area facilitated the fast schedule.
This early engineering was a bold endeavor, but a leap LLOG was willing to take given the company’s higher-than-average success rate and large prospect inventory. LLOG also was comfortable that the new design could accommodate a range of possible oil characteristics.
A typical deepwater approach for new-drill FPSs includes oil discovery, identification of well locations, a front-end engineering and design (FEED) study, a bid for production FPS types, then detail design and, only then, can construction begin. This traditional approach typically takes several years before the first drop of oil is produced from a well. The unique timeline for the new Delta House FPS was far more compressed.