OTC notebook: BP expands in the Gulf
BP kicked off the Offshore Technology Conference by announcing it has approved an expansion in the Gulf of Mexico that will add 50,000 barrels of daily oil equivalent to its massive Thunder Horse field.
The Thunder Horse South Expansion Phase 2 project, which is expected to come online in 2021, follows two other Thunder Horse expansions completed in the last two years. With more than 300,000 barrels of daily production a day in the region, BP remains the Gulf of Mexico’s largest producer.
The new BP expansion will add new underwater production systems two miles south of the existing Thunder Horse platform. BP will initially drill two new wells in the region and eventually develop eight wells as part of the expansion. The Thunder Horse platform, which came online just over 10 years ago, is located about 150 miles south of New Orleans.
Late last year, BP completed the smaller northwest expansion project at the Thunder Horse and, in 2017, finished the first phase of the south expansion. Early this year, BP said new breakthroughs in seismic imaging technology helped it to identify an additional 1 billion barrels of recoverable oil at the Thunder Horse field.
Exxon Mobil owns a 25 percent stake in the overall Thunder Horse development.
— Jordan Blum
Flush with onlookers
The Green Marine booth on the floor of the Offshore Technology Conference features fire proof pipes, ballast water treatment remedies and waste water treatment systems for the offshore industry. But the show stopper? A toilet.
Parked in a prominent spot in the booth for the Louisiana company was a white throne on a pedestal to highlight the company’s vacuum based solid waste removal system.
“We bring it every year,” said Ashley Bourgeois, director of sales. “It catches everyone’s attention.”
While Bourgeois and her co-workers have a sense of humor about the toilet, it’s serious business for the offshore industry that needs a place to do its business. It takes only 3 pints per flush, said Bourgeois, compared to 1.6 gallons for a typical low-flush toilet. And the vacuum suction keeps all the sewage contained for treatment and dispatch overboard, if regulations permit.
The conversation starter is on a platform to prevent people from sitting on it, said Bourgeois. But that still didn’t stop one excited conference goer this year who managed to mount the toilet for a photo opportunity.
— L.M. Sixel
Shape(shifter) of water
One Houston company at OTC aims to introduce shapeshifting “transformers” to the offshore oil and gas sector.
Houston Mechatronics is promoting its upcoming Aquanaut technology - an underwater “transformer” that can turn into an all-electric autonomous underwater vehicle or a remotely operated underwater vehicle, or ROV.
The idea is the robot can perform all kinds of underwater tasks from connecting subsea parts to conducting long-range subsea mapping. In long-range AUV mode, the Aquanaut can travel more than 100 nautical miles to conduct all kinds of inspections. In remotely operated vehicle mode, its arms can connect valves and make repairs while being controlled via a computer mouse.
The robotics device won’t go on the market until late this year or early 2020, so the young Houston company is doing demonstrations and touting the technology to the energy sector and the U.S. Defense Department.
Following the recent oil bust, said Sean Halpin, the Aquanaut product manager, “there’s now this little switch that’s turned on in a lot of folks’ heads that it’s OK to adopt new technology.”
— Jordan Blum
Houston is famous for its traffic and hosting the Offshore Technology Conference at NRG Stadium does create some transportation challenges for attendees and locals alike.
There is one way to cut through that -- take the Houston Metro. For $1.25, attendees can take light rail and have a stress-free commute to the conference.
The Red Line runs through all of downtown along Main Street and it drops off passengers right in front of the main gate for the trade show.
It takes about 30 minutes from most locations in downtown to arrive by rail to the conference, so plan accordingly.
— Sergio Chapa