New wells are boosting valuable energy supplies from the Bonga field, which was Nigeria’s first deep-water development in more than a kilometre of water when it began production in 2005. Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited (SNEPCo) is using one of the world’s largest floating production, storage and offloading vessels to pump oil and gas from deep beneath the seabed.
The vessel’s capacity has been upgraded, enabling SNEPCo to unlock new energy resources – firstly with the start of production at the nearby Bonga North West field in August 2014, then in October 2015 with the completion of the Bonga Phase 3 project, which expands the original Bonga development.
“The country’s deep-water resources are making an important contribution to meeting growing energy demand in Nigeria and around the world,” said Tony Attah, SNEPCo’s Managing Director.
“Our advanced technologies and long commitment to developing a world-class local offshore industry in Nigeria have combined to deliver deep-water projects safely and economically.”
SNEPCo is also co-venturer at the Erha North Phase 2 project, another deep-water development off Nigeria’s coast, which came on stream ahead of schedule in September 2015.
Delivering on Nigeria’s promise
Production from deep-water fields in the last decade has already added more than 800,000 barrels per day (bpd) to Nigeria’s total output, which currently stands at around 2 million bpd, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
Shell and other leading oil and gas companies have been using advanced technology to safely tap into Nigeria’s deep-water resources. SNEPCo deep-water developments have higher capital and operating costs than onshore fields but, with the right government support, the industry is able to make the multi-billion dollar investments needed to unlock vital energy for the future.
Shell has decades of experience in deep-water projects and has pioneered many of the industry’s technologies.
The Bonga floating production, storage and offloading facility is one of the world’s largest. Three hundred metres long and the height of a 12-storey building, its deck spans an area as large as three football fields. One of the main challenges in developing the Bonga North West field was ensuring that it did not disrupt production at this vast facility.
Far below the ocean’s surface, project engineers used remotely-controlled robots to piece together new and existing equipment, connecting additional pipelines from wells in the Bonga North West field.
Using the existing facility has helped to limit the environmental impact of the project.
Global expertise, local workforce
With thousands of people working on deep-water projects across the world, Shell works to ensure that the knowledge gained from one project is transferred to others. Uche Okonkwo, lead engineer for undersea equipment who worked on Bonga North West, spent seven years in Houston, USA, with the group that designs underwater control systems used in Gulf of Mexico deep-water projects.
“My time in Houston prepared me for what we needed to deliver in Nigeria,” Uche said.
By bringing in outside experience, SNEPCo also helped create the first generation of Nigerian deep water oil and gas engineers through the initial Bonga project. Its ongoing efforts to develop local deep-water engineering skills continued with Bonga North West: over 90% of people who worked on the project are Nigerian.
SNEPCo provided specialised training for Nigerians to work in the energy industry, for example as welders and scaffolders. Leaders also helped to develop a strong safety culture among staff and contractors, resulting in the project – involving over 4 million hours of work – being completed without any time lost due to injury.
“The success of the Bonga North West project has opened many doors,” Tony said. “The future for deep water oil and gas in Nigeria is promising.”
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