Shell's Olympus Platform in Production, USCG Sets Safety Zone

The energy company announced Feb. 4 that it has begun production from the giant platform; the company's largest floating deep-water platform in the Gulf of Mexico is located about 130 miles south of New Orleans.

The U.S. Coast Guard is establishing a safety zone around the Olympus, a Shell tension-leg platform that has begun producing from the Mars B oil and gas field in the Gulf of Mexico, the energy company announced Feb. 4, stating that Olympus and the original Mars platform are expected to deliver an estimated resource base of 1 billion barrels of oil equivalent, with the company's estimated peak production of 100,000 boe per day expected to be reached in 2016. Shell, the operator, is the major partner in the field, with BP having a 28.5 percent share.

Olympus is located in about 3,100 feet of water about 130 miles south of New Orleans. The Coast Guard's final rule setting the safety zone says it is intended to reduce the threat of allisions, oil spills, and natural gas releases because "Shell Exploration and Production company indicated that it is highly likely that any allision with the facility would result in a catastrophic event."

The zone is located in Mississippi Canyon Block 807. Navigation in the area of the zone consists of large commercial vessels, fishing vessels, cruise ships, tugs with tows, and occasional recreational vessels, the rule states. Safety zones may extend up to 500 meters around a producing site in the Outer Continental Shelf but may not interfere with recognized sea lanes that are essential to navigation; this particular zone encloses the entire area within 500 meters of any point on the outer edge of Olympus and the area within 500 meters of each supply boat mooring bouy. No vessel is allowed to enter except for attending vessels, a vessel under 100 feet in length overall not engaged in towing, or a vessel authorized by the Commander of the Eighth Coast Guard District or a designated representative, the rule states.

"With two large platforms now producing from the deepwater Mars field, this project demonstrates our deepwater project delivery and leadership," said John Hollowell, executive vice president for Deep Water, Shell Upstream Americas. "We safely completed construction and installation of the Olympus platform more than six months ahead of schedule, allowing us to begin production early from the development's first well. Olympus is the latest, successful start-up of our strong portfolio of deepwater projects, which we expect to generate substantial value in the coming years. Deepwater will continue to be a core growth opportunity for Shell."

According to Shell, 192 people will live and work on board the Olympus platform.

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