Thunder Horse platform in Gulf of Mexico; Source: BP BSEE

Trump administration mulls allowing longer tiebacks to remote offshore wells

The U.S. government is considering changes to policies for oil companies operating in the offshore Gulf of Mexico that might allow existing platforms to lengthen extensions to remote wells, Reuters claimed.

Thunder Horse platform in Gulf of Mexico; Source: BP

According to an article by Reuters on Monday, oil companies operate 68 offshore deepwater platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.

To reduce their costs, companies often drill new wells within about 40 to 50 kilometres of these existing platforms and connect those new wells with tiebacks.

Scott Angelle; Source: BSEE
Scott Angelle; Source: BSEE

U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) director Scott Angelle told Reuters on Monday that BSEE was reviewing policies that limit the length of those tiebacks. Angelle added that more details about the possible changes to policies would be available later this year.

The BSEE is considering whether there is “a policy change that can make subsea tiebacks and investment into the Gulf of Mexico bigger, broader, and bolder for the next decade“, Angelle said.

It is worth noting that oil production from the U.S. Gulf of Mexico hit an all-time high of more than 2 million barrels per day last year. Production has now retreated to about 1.6 million bpd after oil prices crashed earlier this year as demand contracted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The BSEE is examining utilization of the Gulf’s oil-producing platforms, and whether they are being used as fully as possible, he said.

The last thing we want to do is have an asset of the American people that is stranded and left behind“, he stated.