Shell holds a 71.5% stake in Mars B, while BP owns the remaining 28.5%. (Credit: Mike Duhon Productions/ Photographic Services, Shell International Limited)
Audubon Engineering Company secured engineering and procurement services contract for Shell’s Mars Corridor Assets (Credit: Shell plc)
Mars B has a design capacity of 100,000 barrels per day (bbl/d). (Credit: Mike Duhon Productions/ Photographic Services, Shell International Limited)

Shell-operated Mars B is the first deep water project in the US Gulf of Mexico.

The development, which expands an existing oil and gas field with new infrastructure, began production through Shell’s floating deep-water platform Olympus in January 2014.

Mars B has a design capacity of 100,000 barrels per day (bbl/d).

Shell holds a 71.5% stake in Mars B, while BP owns the remaining 28.5% in the deep-water project. It is expected to extend the life of the greater Mars basin to 2050 or beyond.

Background and site details

Mars field was discovered in 1989 at around 130 miles south of New Orleans. The field, located at 3,000ft water deep, started production in 1996.

Mars B was discovered after Shell geologists located untapped reserves in the region by leveraging advanced seismic imaging.

Subsequently, Shell installed the Olympus platform, the company’s seventh floating deep-water platform, in the Gulf of Mexico.

Mars B development is situated around 210km south of New Orleans in the Gulf of Mexico.

The reservoirs are situated 3,050m to 6,700m beneath the sea bed. This corresponds to 3km to 7km below the sea floor.

Project details

Apart from the Olympus platform, the Mars B Oil development consists of subsea wells located at the West Boreas and South Deimos fields lying in the Gulf of Mexico.

The project infrastructure also includes export pipelines to transport the resources and a shallow water platform located near the Louisiana coast at West Delta 143.

Overall, the Mars B construction phase involved more than 25,000 personnel in 37 US states.

The Olympus Tension Leg Platform (TLP) is positioned in the Mississippi Canyon at a site with water depth of 914m. The TLP is designed specially to withstand hurricane force conditions. It lies within a few miles of Mars and Ursa, the production platforms of Shell.

The TLP is more than 400ft tall and weighs 120,000 tonnes. It consists of 24 slots of wells along with a self-contained drilling rig.

Olympus has a combined deck space of 342,000ft². Around 192 people can live and work on the platform.

Mars Field produced an average of over 60,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2013. The use of the Olympus Platform drilling rig and a floating drill rig enables Mars B platform to achieve a production of up to 100,000 boe/d.

The addition of the Olympus TLP has extended the life of the Greater Mars Basin to 2050 or beyond.


South Korea’s Samsung Heavy Industries built the hull of the TLP and Kiewit Offshore Services constructed the topsides.

William Jacob Management received the contract for providing design support for the Olympus Tension Leg Platform. The company also provided assistance with the commissioning and startup of the facility.

The TLP was transported from South Korea to Texas in the US and towed to Mars B field. The installation and transportation contractor was Heerema, while Samson high-performance synthetic lines were used for tow-out.

Shell selected Yokogawa Corporation of America as a Main Automation Contractor (MAC) for Mars B Olympus platform.

Hi-Tech Electric got the contract for completing the four storey living quarters of the platform. It included rooms for 192 occupants, kitchens, fitness rooms, hi-tech control rooms, and an onsite medical facility.

Broadmoor was also associated with building the living quarters. It also provided 4D Plant Design Management Software (PDMS) that created colour-coded visual representation of the construction progress thereby, reducing risks to personnel.

A subsidiary of Mcdermott International won the contract for the fabrication of the West Delta 143 ‘C’ deck, jacket, piles, and bridge. The work of the deck was carried out by McDermott’s Morgan City fabrication facility in Louisiana.

In June 2022, Audubon Engineering Company secured a three-year contract from Shell Offshore, a subsidiary of Shell, to provide brownfield engineering and procurement (EP) services support for Mars Corridor. The contract encompasses work at Mars, Olympus, Ursa, and Vito tension leg platforms.