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Chevron deploys robots to see damage at Big Foot site

Wednesday, June 3, 2015 - 06:44
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Chevron Corp has deployed robots on the seafloor near its Big Foot deepwater oil project, aiming to find just how much damage it must contend with after six giant tendons sank and indefinitely delayed the start of production at the platform.

[GULF OF MEXICO] Chevron Corp has deployed robots on the seafloor near its Big Foot deepwater oil project, aiming to find just how much damage it must contend with after six giant tendons sank and indefinitely delayed the start of production at the platform.

The company, the No 2 US oil producer, said late Monday it would move the Big Foot platform away from the site after tendons, which look like a long series of interlocking metal pipes and tether platforms to seabeds, failed to float.

The setback means Chevron will not meet its goal of bringing Big Foot production online by the end of the year. The site, 225 miles south of New Orleans in the US Gulf of Mexico, is expected to produce 75,000 barrels of oil per day once it opens.

Remote-operated vehicle (ROV) robots, which are equipped with cameras, have been deployed to the site and "are assessing the damage at this time," Chevron spokesman Cam Van Ast said.

The company plans to update its timeline for bringing Big Foot online during its July earnings conference call, Mr Van Ast said.

Wells Fargo analyst Roger Read said on Tuesday the setback was "clearly a negative from production, cash flow and operational excellence standpoints." The Big Foot platform was engineered to be tied by 16 metal rod tendons to a base on the seafloor 5,200 feet below water.

The tendons, which range in diameter from 24 inches (61 cm)to 32 inches (81 cm), were designed to be buoyant and stay in place until the platform was moved atop them and connected. Four tendons were engineered to connect to each of the platform's corners.

Effectively, six of the tendons failed, sinking to the seabed floor. It is not yet known if the tendons that sank can be salvaged or if new ones will need to be built.

It also was not immediately clear who constructed the tendons for Chevron. An investor presentation by Houston-based Oil States International Inc said the company had worked on some tendon components of Big Foot.

A unit of Dynamic Industries Inc was contracted to work on commissioning and mechanical offshore construction services. Neither company was immediately available for comment.

Chevron is the project's operator, with a 60 per cent stake. Statoil ASA and Marubeni Oil & Gas hold the remainder.

REUTERS