1 of 2 | The deck on the Argos drilling facility in the Gulf of Mexico is 27 stories above the sea's surface. BP said operations began at the deepwater facility Thursday. Photo courtesy of BP
April 13 (UPI) -- British energy company BP said Thursday it started producing oil from a deepwater field in the Gulf of Mexico, part of a strategy to pull nearly a half million barrels per day from the region.
Argus is situated about 190 miles off the coast of New Orleans, with the platform tapping reserves some 4,500 feet below the surface.
This is the fifth production platform for BP and its first new one to come online in the region since 2008, two years before the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
"The semi-submersible platform ultimately will increase BP's gross operated production capacity in the Gulf of Mexico by an estimated 20%," the company explained. "BP expects to safely and systematically ramp up production from Argos through 2023."
The Gulf of Mexico produces about 1.7 million barrels of oil per day, compared with about 9.2 million bpd for inland shale basins. Total gas production accounts for about 15% of the national total.
Ewan Drummond, senior vice president for projects, production and operations, said offshore projects like these take years to develop.
"Argos is key to our strategy of increasing our Gulf of Mexico production to around 400,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day by the middle of this decade," he said.
The deck of the Argus platform sits 27 stories above the water's surface, and the entire facility weights more than 60,000 tons.
The region has seen a boost in activity. Shell, along with its minority partner Equinor, started production at the Vito floating production facility in the U.S. waters of the Gulf of Mexico early this year. The facility has a peak production capacity of 100,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.
Equinor considers the Gulf of Mexico one of its "core areas" of growth in the country. With a combined 120,000 barrels of oil equivalent production from its combined assets, Equinor is one of the top five producers in the region, along with BP.
More than 70 million acres of maritime acreage in the Gulf of Mexico was put on the auction block last month. The federal government reported that 32 companies offered bids totaling $309 million.