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BP flows first oil, gas from US Gulf of Mexico's Thunder Horse phase 2 project

Highlights

Project increases field output by 25,000 boe/d gross

Adds to series of Thunder Horse field expansions

The giant deepwater field was discovered in 1999

BP has flowed first oil and gas from startup of the deepwater Thunder Horse South Expansion Phase 2 project in the US Gulf of Mexico, which should increase output from one of that region's largest fields by 25,000 boe/d gross at peak, the company said Sept. 28.

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The initial two-well tieback will expand to eight wells eventually during the phase 2 development, which is part of BP's goal to increase its Gulf of Mexico oil and gas production to around 400,000 boe/d by the mid-2020s, the company said in a statement.

"This has been a pivotal year for our Gulf of Mexico business as we continue to start up new projects," Starlee Sykes, BP senior vice president for the Gulf of Mexico and Canada, said. "Bringing high-margin, resilient barrels online in basins we know best is central to BPs strategy."

Situated about 150 miles southeast of New Orleans in the Mississippi Canyon area of the US Gulf in water depths of more than 6,000 feet of water, the Thunder Horse platform is designed to process up to 250,000 boe/d of oil and 200,000 Mcf/d of natural gas.

The initial Thunder Horse discovery well was drilled in 1999 to a depth of 25,770 feet, and encountered around 520 feet net of pay in three intervals. It is one of BP's largest US Gulf discoveries.

The original field, developed with 25% partner ExxonMobil, began production in June 2008. Thunder Horse was originally planned to begin producing in 2005 but the production platform was severely damaged by Hurricane Dennis in the US Gulf in July 2005.

Southeast of original field

Thunder Horse South Expansion Phase 2 is situated at Mississippi Canyon Block 822, southeast of the original Thunder Horse field at MC 778. An earlier Thunder Horse South Expansion came onstream in January 2017, bringing an additional gross 50,000 boe/d of production at the field.

In February 2001, a new area named Thunder Horse North was discovered at MC 776, in 5,640 feet of water, five miles northwest of the original Thunder Horse field and was subsequently developed. The Northwest Expansion achieved first oil in October 2018 with peak annual average gross production around 30,000 boed/d.

BP is one of the largest producers in the deepwater US Gulf of Mexico, operating four production platforms. Besides Thunder Horse, the company operates the Atlantis, Mad Dog and Na Kika platforms. A fifth platform, named Argos, is expected online in 2022.

Even though BP's ambition is to become a net zero company by 2050 or sooner, and is increasing its profile in Energy Transition projects, the company considers the US Gulf of Mexico a key operating area.

That is also true of Shell, which has continued to greenlight US Gulf of Mexico developments. Both majors have said their presences in the US Gulf allows them to deliver high-return oil and gas projects with relatively low emissions.