J. Michael Yeager, chief executive of BHP Billiton Petroleum, described the sustained high production rates as a significant milestone for the Shenzi development which came on-stream three months ahead of schedule and within budget.

“Our primary goal during the early production phase of Shenzi was to safely achieve full design rates which we did within 50 days of start-up. We have now been able to sustain rates significantly in excess of design capacity over the past 2 months. The facility has also performed at over 95% uptime during this period. Shenzi’s excellent performance continues beyond the outstanding project delivery and is now a reflection of the solid operations expertise in our production team.”

“The well rates are exceptionally pleasing as we are getting the 120,000 barrels per day from only 7 wells. We currently have 2 additional wells shut in and available for production when we need the additional well capacity. As these wells were some of the fastest wells ever drilled to this depth and involve gravel packs of over 250 feet of pay interval, we are extremely proud of our drilling organisation for the success” added Yeager.

The Shenzi facility is located approximately 120 miles (195 kilometers) off the Louisiana coastline and is installed in approximately 4,300 feet (1,300 meters) of water on Green Canyon block 653.

The Shenzi field comprises four blocks: Green Canyon 609, 610, 653 and 654. Initial field development includes seven subsea wells tied back to the TLP, with full field development expected to expand to a total of 15 producing wells and future water injection wells. Crude oil is transported via a 20-inch diameter pipeline connecting to Ship Shoal 332 B, while natural gas will be exported via the Cleopatra pipeline (where BHP Billiton has a 22% equity share).

BHP Billiton is the operator with 44% equity. Joint interest participants are Hess Corporation and Repsol YPF, S.A., each with a 28% equity.