7 january 2013

Exxon Mobil gets green light for massive development in north Atlantic

Nathanial Gronewold, E&E reporter, January 7, 2013

HOUSTON -- A massive new offshore energy platform is headed for the frigid waters of Canada's Atlantic coastline.

Exxon Mobil Corp. on Friday announced that the Canadian government and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador had given a consortium of companies the green light for development of the Hebron offshore energy field.

Texas-based Exxon Mobil will act as the operator of the project to deliver millions of barrels equivalent of oil and gas from the Hebron, which lies off the southeast coast of Newfoundland.

The new project will be close to the existing Hibernia project, which Exxon Mobil's Canadian subsidiary is also operating.

In a release, Exxon Mobil described plans for Hebron that suggest the platform being constructed will be similar to the one producing oil and gas from Hibernia.

The Hibernia platform is one of the world's largest, built to withstand the harsh ocean conditions of the north Atlantic, including high seas and icebergs.

Hebron's platform, which Exxon Mobil says it's building at Bull Arm, Newfoundland and Labrador, will sit at the bottom of the sea like Hibernia, in about 300 feet of water.

The $14 billion structure companies have planned for Hebron will be capable of storing up to 1.2 million barrels of oil and is being designed to handle a production rate of 150,000 barrels of oil per day.

Exxon Mobil Canada holds a 36 percent stake in the new Canadian offshore energy project. Other partner companies at Hebron include Suncor Energy Inc., Statoil ASA, Chevron Corp., and Nalcor Energy Oil and Gas.

"Hebron will be developed using a stand-alone gravity-based structure consisting of reinforced concrete designed to withstand sea ice, icebergs and meteorological and oceanographic conditions," Exxon Mobil said. "The base will be designed to store approximately 1.2 million barrels of crude oil and will support an integrated topsides deck that includes a living quarters and facilities to perform drilling and production."

Exxon Mobil thinks it can eventually pull around 700 million barrels of crude oil from Hebron, higher than initial estimates.

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