Beneath the world’s oceans – in waters ranging from a few hundred to several thousand metres deep – lie vast supplies of oil and natural gas with the potential to boost economic growth and play a vital role in the future energy mix. There could be around 270 billion barrels of recoverable oil alone in deep water worldwide, according to the International Energy Agency.
Shell has decades of experience in developing and operating deep-water projects, with more than 20 major projects active today, and significant new projects under development. Our deep-water activities reach from the Gulf of Mexico to the China Sea, and from the Norwegian continental shelf to the waters off Nigeria’s coast.
Freezing temperatures, immense water pressure and pitch darkness all make producing oil and gas from deep water a major technical challenge. We have pushed the boundaries of what is possible and safely achievable to efficiently unlock these resources which the world needs.
At all our operations, including those far below the ocean’s surface, safety is always our top priority. All of Shell’s deep-water wells must meet rigorous design and construction standards. Our engineers undergo several years’ additional training in deep-water exploration and recovery.
We use advanced sensors to monitor deep-water wells in real time during operations. This allows engineers and geologists in our onshore operations centres to identify any potential risks and respond immediately.
Our deep-water operations create jobs and income for local businesses. At our Bonga project in Nigeria, for example, 90% of people working on the project are Nigerian. Local Nigerian businesses have benefited too, thanks to the growth of support industries providing boats, materials and accommodation.
We also invest directly in local communities. Programmes include providing education and skills, such as an initiative in Brazil that helps small businesses become suppliers to the oil and gas industry.
Our deep-water projects
Our major deep-water projects include Perdido in the Gulf of Mexico, which set a water depth record for an offshore oil drilling and production platform of 2,450 metres (8,000 feet).
Stones, an ultra-deep-water oil and gas development that hosts the deepest production facility in the world in about 2,900 metres (9,500 feet) of water, and began production in 2016.
We are moving ahead to develop fields in the Norphlet formation in the Gulf of Mexico, including the arrival of the hull for the Appomattox project to Ingleside, Texas, where the Appomattox semi-submersible host will complete construction. The facility will be Shell’s largest floating platform in the Gulf of Mexico, on track for first oil from the Appomattox and Vicksburg fields by the end of the decade.