Title: Auger: Deep-water Pioneer Duration: 8: 01 minutes Description



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Title: Auger: Deep-water Pioneer
Duration: 8:01 minutes

Description:

Back in 1994, Auger was the world’s first tension-leg platform, operating in the US Gulf of Mexico. A true deep-water pioneer, it was the first to float in water, moored to the sea floor thousands of feet below.

When production from its fields started to slow, Auger looked destined for decommissioning. But in 2010 its fate took a dramatic turn.

Using a new breed of seismic technology, Shell’s engineers discovered a whole untapped field – called Cardamom – hidden behind a vast salt deposit, 4 miles (6.4 km) below the sea floor. To reach its oil, they drilled one of the world’s longest wells.

In September 2014, Auger began producing new energy from Cardamom. This is the story of a legendary platform and the oil field that’s reinventing it – a success story unlike any other in deep water.

Auger: Deep-water Pioneer Film Transcript

[Background music plays]

Bright, uplifting music
[Visual]
Map of the Gulf of Mexico highlighting New Orleans, Mexico and Auger in the sea. Auger platform aerial view and people working on the platform.

Voice over

The Gulf of Mexico - 130 miles from shore, Auger, 50,000 tonnes of engineering masterpiece has been anchored in 2,800 feet of water, for twenty years.



Interview with Professor Richard Sears

[Title]
Professor Richard Sears, Deepwater Specialist]

[Richard]
“Auger, clearly, was a deep water pioneer.”

[Visual]
Footage of the Auger platform, engineers on the platform, workers in the control room, various sections of the platform.

Voice over

After a lifetime of drilling milestones Auger was scheduled to retire, but one elusive oil field still remained. Auger had one last shot - and it hit the jackpot, kick-starting an historic come back.

[Professor Richard Sears, Deepwater Specialist]
“Auger makes Cardamom possible. Cardamom extends the life of Auger.”

[Visual]
Helicopter landing on the Auger platform, then looking down into the sea from the platform.

Voice over

This is the story of Shell's legendary deep-water platform and the oil field that's re-inventing it.

[Text displays]
Auger: deepwater pioneer

[Visual]
Workers on the Auger platform

Interview with Jeff Stephens

[Title]
Jeff Stephens, Offshore Installation Manager

[Jeff]
“We're going to be testing another line that comes from the UTP panel.”

[Visual]
Footage of the Auger platform and workers operating the platform]

Voice over

This deep-water drill rig and production facility looks like many others in the Gulf of Mexico, but Auger's unique.

[Jeff]
“Auger's a special platform for me, the first TLP I've ever worked on. It's very special to me - it's my home for 17 years.”

[Visual]
Footage of the Auger platform – aerial view]

Voice over

Three decades ago, a rig this far off shore, in water this deep, was considered impossible.

[Visual]
Black and white film footage of workers operating the Auger platform]

[Richard]


“It was generally thought by the industry, as late as early 1980's that beyond the shelf edge which would be in water that was greater than 600 to 1,000 feet, there was likely not going to be commercial accumulations of oil and gas.”

[Music changes and gets louder and brighter]

[Text displays]
1988

[Visual]
Footage of the huge Bullwinkle platform being floated out to sea, pulled by tugs and then installed in the water.

Voice over

In the late 80's everyone thought off-shore technology had reached its limit with 'Bullwinkle'. Installed in 1,300 feet of water, and five times the height of the Statue of Liberty, it still holds the record for the tallest structure ever placed in the sea.

[Visual]
Footage of the huge Bullwinkle platform being constructed.

[Richard]

“You're building this enormous structure, almost 1,500 feet tall, and perched up on top of it is the usable part of the building. It's like building the largest skyscraper in the world and occupying the top two floors, the rest of it is just holding it up above the waves.”

[Visual]
Rigs in the sea with Tension Legs anchored into the sea bed. Auger platform being constructed and then floated in the sea.

Voice over

But Shell wanted to drill in water twice as deep as 'Bullwinkles'. It required a new breed of platform, and a giant leap of faith.

Plans for the world's first 'Tension Leg Platform', a rig anchored into the deep-sea floor were drawn up.

[Richard]

“The Tension Leg Platform - the concept was enormous, it was game changing in many ways. It floats on large pontoons and the connection to the sea-floor is not through the fixed structure but rather through what are called 'Tendons' that hold it in place and they're under tension.”

[Visual]
Footage of tendons under the sea

[Text displays]
1994

[Visual]
Engineers drilling on a platform. Aerial view of platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.

Voice over

In the mid 90's, Auger, the pioneer 'Tension Leg Platform' or TLP, began drilling at an unprecedented depth. It's design was quickly replicated. Four more were built, and installed in the Gulf.

[Text displays]
1999

[Visual]
Animation of hubs on the sea bed.

Voice over

As the new century approached, and the oil directly below Auger diminished, it found a new lease of life as a hub, processing oil from deep-water fields up to 20 miles away.

[Richard]

“So from the TLP you can actually control what goes on, on those wells that are located many miles away on the sea bed.”

[Music changes – more dramatic]

[Text displays]


2008

[Visual]
Footage of the Auger field platform.

Voice over

But in 2008, Auger's six sub-sea fields began to slow. She was scheduled for an oil rig's inevitable fate, de-commissioning.

[Engineer talking on radio]

“Nice and easy, buddy.”

[Jeff]
“Auger's decline, or end of life was somewhere around 2015.”

[Visual]
Animation footage of salt deposit and the Cardamom field beneath the sea.

Voice over

But talk turned to a mysterious new field that might be near by - Cardamom. The elusive oil field had been hidden beneath a vast impenetrable salt deposit, six miles below the sea floor.

Interview with Brian Huber

[Title]
Brian Huber, Cardamom Project Manager

“We've always known that the oil was down there, or thought it was, but it wasn't until more recently with some of the new seismic tools that we have that we actually could prove that it was there, and actually make it worthwhile to go after it.”

[Visual]
Footage of Auger platform. Animation of seismic activity. Animation of directional drilling around the salt deposit into the oil.

Voice over

But reaching Cardamom meant drilling a well like no other. Using a directional drilling technique, Auger pierced the sea floor and steered the drill two miles horizontally through the earth's crust around the salt deposit - directly into the oil.

[Professor Richard Sears, Deepwater Specialist]

“When you drill wells at that depth, they're eight inches in diameter, two miles might as well be the other side of the solar system.”

Voice over

At 31,000 feet from the drill deck, this was the longest directional well ever made, right into a giant find.

[Professor Richard Sears, Deepwater Specialist]

“It's always a gamble, because you can never be sure, you're always going to be making you best guess. What it tells you about the Gulf of Mexico is that there's probably still a lot to be done there, that will keep the industry busy for a very long time. “

[Visual]
Auger platform at sunset. Wells going down from the platform into the sea.

Voice over

Auger was saved from imminent de-commissioning, but in 2010, as Auger geared up for its big break, disaster struck when a blow-out at the deep-water 'Horizon' oil rig killed 11 crew.

[Visual]
Footage of the sea. Inactive platforms. Gulf of Mexico coastline.

Voice over

The well gushed into the Gulf for 87 days, creating the worst accidental marine oil spill in history. A six month moratorium on drilling in the Gulf, left Auger's Cardamom discovery in limbo.

Stricter regulations were introduced, but Shell's robust approach to operating safely and responsibly meant that Auger was the first rig to recommence drilling.

[Visual]
Auger platform. Workers preparing the platform for Cardamom. Close-up of work and the platform. Aerial view of Auger.

[Text displays]
2014

[Brian Huber, Cardamom Project Manager]

“In the last couple of years, we've actually doubled capacity on the platform. Once Cardamom comes on stream, we're going to add another 60% on top of that.”

Voice over

And now Cardamom is almost ready to come on-line, but not before Auger's multi-billion dollar upgrade is complete. Soon, this deep-water veteran will be able to handle the mighty Cardamom.

[Jeff Stephens, Offshore Installation Manager]

“Auger's old - she's 20 years old. There's a lot of work, there's a lot of money being spent on Auger. We're revitalising the platform, to make it a platform that will last another 20 years.”

[Professor Richard Sears, Deepwater Specialist]

“Auger very much was a pioneer, and you could say now, with Cardamom, as a six mile deep sub-salt discovery, Auger continues to be a pioneer.”

Voice over

Today, Auger's history has made it a deep-water legend. It's a success story unlike any other in offshore exploration.

[Jeff Stephens, Offshore Installation Manager]



“In 1997 I never thought that we would be here long enough for me to retire. Now that Cardamom's come on board, I love Auger, so maybe I could retire right here.”

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