Thursday, March 22, 2007

Producing Projects: Terra Nova

This is the 3rd of 4 articles on current energy producing projects recently published in the Natural Resources Magazine supplement to Atlantic Business Magazine.


Discovered in 1984 by Petro Canada, the Terra Nova oil field is located on the Grand Banks some 350 kilometres off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. With proven oil reserves of 224 million barrels, Terra Nova was the second major project to be developed off Canada’s East coast. Production commenced in January 2002, and as of March 2006 an estimated 73% of reserves will have been extracted at a maximum rate of 180,000 barrels a day.

Development drilling will be wrapping up in June 2007, after which the semi-submersible Henry Goodrich will sail south after 7 years of drilling 29 wells.

The Terra Nova project was the first in North America to use a Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel in a harsh, ice-infested environment. The FPSO is a ship-shaped platform that can hold almost a million barrels of oil. It is designed to disconnect from the well-head structures and move under its own power to avoid collision with icebergs. Where Hibernia was engineered to stand and fight, Terra Nova was designed to cut and run.

2006 was a challenging year for this project, due to a longer than expected maintenance shutdown. In early May, the FPSO headed to the Keppel Verolme shipyard in Rotterdam, six weeks earlier than scheduled because of mechanical failures. Following a $190 million work program, the FPSO finally returned to the Grand Banks in late September. Part of the retrofit included adding accommodations for 40 additional maintenance and monitoring personnel.
Terra Nova’s mechanical and operational problems are acknowledged to result from cost-saving design decisions made in a low-price environment.

In this and other areas, Terra Nova has provided valuable learnings for more recent developments and continues to blaze the trail for harsh-environment FPSOs.

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