Newfoundland and Labrador’s next offshore oilfield is on the cusp of production

Newfoundland and Labrador’s next offshore oilfield is on the cusp of production
Photo courtesy of ExxonMobil Canada Properties

ExxonMobil and friends prepare to pump out crude from Hebron

A LITTLE PACK ICE isn’t enough to stop the five partners in the Hebron project from producing their first barrel of oil by the end of 2017.

During the month of May, Hebron operator ExxonMobil was forced to wait until pack ice cleared out of nearby Trinity Bay before it could tow the mammoth production and storage platform that’s been built for the Hebron oilfield, located 350 kilometres southeast of St. John’s. That resulted in a multi-week delay in getting the platform to the site. But Hebron senior project manager Geoff Parker says that won’t put ExxonMobil and its four partners behind the eight ball in achieving production on schedule. “It’s one of those things we manage,” he says. “We’re still on target to produce first oil by the end of 2017.”

A little pack ice is a mere speed bump in the $14-billion project that’s been in the works since ExxonMobil and its partners (Chevron, Suncor Energy, Statoil and Nalcor Oil and Gas) sanctioned the project in January of 2013. Parker says once the platform was towed to the oilfield site, it had to be set down on the seabed. The drilling program to get the first production well flowing oil was set to start this summer. The current development plan envisions there being 26 producing wells in place.

Production from Hebron has been a long time coming. The field was first discovered in 1980, and the partners expect to suck 700 million barrels from the field. But they are likely hoping Hebron will have similar results to the Hibernia field, which has performed above original expectations. The field started pumping out oil in 1997 and produced its one billionth barrel in 2016. New reserves have been found over the years that could extend production at Hibernia for another 15 to 20 years.

Parker says he hopes Hebron enjoys a similar fate, but nothing is certain in the oil and gas business. “You never quite know how a reservoir will perform until you start drilling,” Parker says. “You may have one like Hibernia or you may have one that doesn’t perform as you expected. But we’re in a really good place. We’re focusing on the job, producing and producing reliably.”

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