Illustration; Source: Shell

Shell hires Seatrium for deepwater Gulf of Mexico project

Shell Offshore, a subsidiary of the UK-headquartered energy giant Shell, has inked a letter of intent (LOI) with Seatrium Oil and Gas International, a subsidiary of the Singapore-headquartered Seatrium Limited – formerly Sembcorp Marine Ltd before the merger with Keppel Offshore & Marine Limited – for a floating production unit (FPU), which will be deployed at a deepwater project in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.

Illustration; Source: Shell

According to Seatrium, Shell picked it to carry out construction work related to its Sparta project, previously known as North Platte. This is a deepwater development in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, approximately 170 miles off the Louisiana coast measuring 4,300 square feet.

Seatrium explains that the Sparta FPU is conceived as a replicable project between the firm and Shell to leverage its topsides single lift integration methodology, following the Vito and Whale newbuild facilities. The FPU comprises a single topside module supported by a four-column semi-submersible floating hull. The final contract award is subject to a final investment decision (FID) by Shell and Equinor.

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The Sparta field was discovered in 2012 by Cobalt International Energy, which at the time held 60 per cent interest, while Total (now TotalEnergies) held the remaining 40 per cent. In March 2018, Equinor joined as a partner by acquiring Cobalt’s 40 per cent interest, while TotalEnergies became the operator of this project with a 60 per cent interest, following the acquisition of a 20 per cent stake for $339 million during Cobalt’s bankruptcy auction sale.

Previously, TotalEnergies started the front-end engineering and design for the North Platte discovery in December 2019 and Worley was working on the FEED for the development under a contract awarded in early 2020. The final investment decision was expected in 2021, however, TotalEnergies withdrew from the project in February 2022 releasing all its equity to Equinor, which agreed to sell 51 per cent of its interest in the project to Shell last year.

Currently owned by Shell (51 per cent) and Equinor (49 per cent), the project is being progressed toward a final investment decision expected later in 2023. Sparta straddles four blocks of the Garden Banks area – GB blocks 915, 916, 958 and 959 – 275 kilometres off the coast of Louisiana in approximately 1,300 metres or 4,265 feet water depth.

Recently, Seatrium handed over the second of three newbuild jack-up rigs to the UAE’s ADNOC Drilling. This is in line with the drilling giant’s fleet expansion strategy to meet ADNOC’s production capacity targets.