Production has begun at the Hebron field, offshore Newfoundland and Labrador, operator ExxonMobil said on November 28. The project will peak at 150,000 bpd of heavy oil – at 20 degrees API.
Hebron was discovered in 1980 and has more than 700 million barrels of recoverable resources. The platform is around 350 km offshore and in water depths of 300 feet (92 metres), in the Jeanne d’Arc Basin. The project involves a standalone gravity-based structure, with 1.2 million barrels of oil storage capacity.
ExxonMobil Canada’s president, Carman Mullins, noted the timely start-up of the project, describing it as an “engineering and construction marvel”.
“The successful start-up of the Hebron project demonstrates ExxonMobil’s disciplined project management expertise and highlights its ability to execute large-scale energy developments safely and responsibly in challenging operating conditions,” said ExxonMobil Development’s president, Liam Mallon. He went on to note the strong safety record at Hebron, which he said had been driven by local and international contractors. “By leveraging their expertise, we were able to bring this world-class platform online safely and successfully.”
Around 7,500 jobs were created during the construction phase, without a lost-time injury in more than 40 million hours. Now that the project has moved into production, it will require around 600 employees.
The project was sanctioned in December 2012. The platform was towed to the field in June this year, after being constructed at Bull Arm, in Newfoundland, by contractors Kiewit Kvaerner and WorleyParsons. The topsides were built in South Korea. The project has a price tag of around US$14 billion. The field lies in what is known as “iceberg alley”, with platforms having to be tough enough to withstand possible collisions.
ExxonMobil Canada Properties has a 35.5% stake in Hebron, while Chevron Canada owns 29.6%, Suncor Energy has 21%, Statoil Canada 9% and Nalcor Energy Oil and Gas has 4.9%. The nearby Hibernia field was discovered in 1979 and began producing in 1997. One aspect in Hibernia’s favour was that oil from this field was lighter, at around 31 degrees API, than that from Hebron.
The start up of Hebron – and Brazil’s Libra field – comes as OPEC and affiliated countries meet in Vienna to consider the extension of oil production limits. These major starts are likely to feed into a perception of ample supply.