Vito platform in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico; Credit: Shell

First oil flows from Shell’s deepwater project in U.S. Gulf of Mexico

UK-headquartered energy giant Shell has brought on stream a deepwater project in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico (GOM), which has estimated recoverable resources of approximately 290 million barrels of oil equivalent.

Vito platform in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico; Credit: Shell

The update about the start of production from the Vito platform was shared by Shell’s partner in the project, Norway’s Equinor, on Thursday, 16 February 2023. Equinor has a 36.9 per cent interest in the Shell-operated Vito project,  while Shell Offshore Inc., a subsidiary of Shell, holds the remaining 63 per cent stake.

Zoe Yujnovich, Shell’s Upstream Director, commented: “Vito is an excellent example of how we are approaching our projects to meet the energy demands of today and tomorrow, while remaining resilient as we work toward achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

“Building on more than 40 years of deepwater expertise, projects like Vito enable us to generate greater value from the GoM, where our production has amongst the lowest greenhouse gas intensity in the world for producing oil.”

Following a final investment decision in April 2018, Vito was initially expected to start production in 2021. The giant platform for the Vito project was built by Singapore’s Sembcorp Marine and delivered to Shell in December 2021. After its arrival in the U.S. in March 2022, the 40,000-ton semi-submersible platform was inspected by the BSEE at the Kiewit shipyard in Ingleside in May 2022.

As previously reported, the platform sailed away from Kiewit in mid-July 2022 to its final destination about 150 miles south of New Orleans for installation at a water depth of approximately 4,000 feet. At the time, it was expected that the production would start in late 2022. The change in the timeline was revealed in August 2022, when Equinor confirmed that the Vito project was slated to come online in 2023.

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Vito was discovered in 2009. According to Equinor, Vito employs a simplified and cost-efficient host design that was rescoped in 2015, resulting in about an 80 per cent reduction in lifetime CO2 emissions and more than 70 per cent reduction in costs versus the original concept.

With an estimated peak production of 100,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, the Vito platform is located 75 miles (120 kilometres) south of Venice, Louisiana, in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico’s Mississippi Canyon area in a water depth of approximately 4,000 feet (1,220 metres). The Vito development entails eight subsea wells to a depth of 31,000 feet (9,500 meters).

Chris Golden, Equinor’s U.S. country manager, remarked: “Vito is a first-class asset in a key producing region for Equinor. The U..S Gulf of Mexico delivers some of Equinor’s highest-value barrels, helping us meet society’s critical energy needs while maintaining our focus on reducing emissions towards becoming a net-zero energy company by 2050.”

As Equinor claims to be committed to long-term value creation in a low-carbon future, an optimised oil and gas portfolio is part of its strategy to provide always safe, high-value, and low-carbon energy.