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Deeper Than Deepwater: Shell Plans World's Riskiest Offshore Well

Ignoring risks, Shell gears up for production of world's deepest offshore well

Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

(Simon Dawson/Bloomberg)

Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell announced Wednesday that it will soon begin development of the world's deepest off-shore oil well, in the body of water that is home to the world's largest oil spill—BP's Deepwater Horizon oil disaster of 2010—the Gulf of Mexico.

The well will be drilled almost two miles underwater in the Gulf, which is still reeling from the aftermath of the BP Deepwater disaster that spewed 4.9 million barrels (210 million gallons) of oil from the busted Macondo well over the span of three months.

In comparison to BP's Macondo well that began at about 5,100 feet below the water—a precarious operation that ended in catastrophe—Shell's new well will begin at almost twice that depth: 9,500 feet under water. The site of the well, the "Stones field", is 200 miles south-west of New Orleans. Shell's other deep water project, Perdido, at 8,000 feet below the surface, is the well's only rival.

In addition, as the Guardian reports, although Shell's new well is unparallelled, it is not without company:


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It comes a day after ExxonMobil said it would start work on a $4bn (£2.6bn) project to develop the Julia oilfield, also in the North American ocean basin, and weeks after BP delayed development of its biggest Gulf of Mexico project – Mad Dog Phase 2 – citing rising costs. [...]

[Shell] has several other projects nearby, including its 900 meter-deep Mars field, where it is adding new infrastructure, plus its Appomattox and Vito discoveries.

Shell is expected to begin production at Stones by 2016.


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