Hess starts new oil production in Gulf of Mexico

Tubular Bells startup follows dire forecast from Wood Mackenzie.

By Daniel J. Graeber

NEW YORK, Nov. 17 (UPI) -- Hess Corp. said Monday the start of production from its Tubular Bells field in the Gulf of Mexico shows it has the mettle to succeed in a complex environment.

Discovered in 2003, Hess said the deep-water field should be producing on average 50,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day by the end of the year.


"This important achievement demonstrates our ability to successfully execute highly complex, deep-water development projects," said John Hess, chief executive officer.

Development plans for Tubular Bells were sanctioned more than two years ago. The field lies more than three-quarters of a mile beneath the water's surface.

In October, Hess said it expects to pull at most 80,000 barrels of oil per day from the Stampede project in the Green Canyon reserve area of the Gulf of Mexico.

For Chevron, which holds a minority stake in Tubular Bells, the new development helps advance the company's production growth targets.

"Achieving first oil at Tubular Bells is an important step toward Chevron achieving its production goal of 3.1 million barrels per day by 2017," Vice Chairman George Kirkland said in a separate statement.


The U.S. federal government says the Gulf of Mexico is "one of the most productive basins in the world" and is one of the cornerstones of the domestic energy sector.

New fields in the Gulf of Mexico should boost output by more than 115,000 barrels of oil equivalent by 2016.

After that, analysis from energy consultant company Wood Mackenzie finds Gulf of Mexico oil production should start to level off.

Hess last year transformed into an exploration and production company after it left the refining business by closing a facility in New Jersey. It sold its entire retail sector of gasoline stations and convenience stores to Marathon Petroleum Corp. in June.

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