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Ida Damage Shuts Shell Mars Facility Until Year's End

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Royal Dutch Shell said its West Delta-143 (WD-143) transfer station in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico will be largely out of service for the rest of 2021 due to damage sustained during Hurricane Ida.

The facility’s downtime will force Shell-operated fields in the prolific Mars corridor to be shut in until repairs are completed. A handful of third-party fields will also likely be impacted. The facility transfers offshore production to onshore crude and natural gas terminals.

Damage Assessment

Shell said Monday that it had completed a comprehensive damage assessment that revealed “significant structural damage” to the WD-143 transfer station.

The company now estimates the WD-143 "A" platform facilities will be off line for repairs until the end of 2021, and that the facilities on the WD-143 "C" platform will be operational sometime in the fourth quarter.

“Given the timeline for repairs to WD-143, we expect to resume production from our Olympus platform, which flows across the WD-143 ‘C’ platform, in [fourth-quarter] 2021, and from our Mars and Ursa facilities, which flow across the WD-143 ‘A’ platform, in [first-quarter] 2022,” Shell said in a statement Monday.

Shell does not disclose how much individual assets in the Gulf produce.

It said about 40% of its operated production in the Gulf remains off line “at this stage of the recovery” from Ida, with the other 60% “back on line.”

Shell averaged total production of 313,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day from the Gulf in 2020, including nonoperated output. The Gulf accounts for around 55% of Shell’s US oil and gas production.

The company's Perdido platform in the southwestern Gulf was never disrupted by Hurricane Ida, although it did see a brief shut-in during Tropical Storm Nicholas, which later became a hurricane before making landfall in Texas last week.

Just over 18% of total US Gulf oil production remained off line on Monday due to Ida, or about 331,000 barrels per day, according to the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). About 27% of gas production was still down.

Third-Party Impacts

It is not clear how much oil and gas the WD-143 facilities handle on a daily basis and Shell declined to provide any such details. It does handle some volumes from operators other than Shell, however.

Murphy Oil’s Medusa spar sends undisclosed volumes through WD-143, although a Murphy spokeswoman said the company “does not disclose specifics regarding third-party downstream connections.”

In a corporate update earlier this month, Murphy said about 1,000 boe/d of net production will be off line “longer term” for repairs.

“The remainder of our production was ready to produce and awaiting downstream restarts” as of Sep. 8, the date of the update presentation, the spokeswoman said.

Murphy has withdrawn production guidance as it awaits third-party downstream reports, it said in the presentation.

Other platforms that send production to WD-143 include Who Dat, operated by privately held LLOG Exploration. LLOG did not respond to requests for comment or information on Ida’s impacts by press time Monday.

Equinor’s Titan platform also flows through WD-143, according to Shell. Equinor also did not have a comment by press time. Titan produced around 1,000 boe/d for Equinor in 2020.

The WD-143 platform is held by 100%-owned affiliate Shell Pipeline on 71.5% and BP on 28.5%. Shell Pipeline is the operator. Shell and BP own the same percentages at Mars and Olympus.

At Ursa, Shell owns 45.4%, BP owns 22.7%, Exxon Mobil holds 16% and ConocoPhillips has 17%.

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