Department of the Interior
|Office of the Secretary
|Contact: Hugh Vickery 202-501-4633
For Immediate Release: Feb. 26, 2005
|Dr. Joe Trahan MMS 504-736-2595 cell 504-343-6668
Secretary Norton Applauds Technological Advances at Dedication of World's Largest Offshore Oil Platform
(INGLESIDE, Texas) - Interior
Secretary Gale Norton today joined BP officials in dedicating the world's
largest and most advanced semi-submersible oil platform, which will be
used to tap into a huge reserve of oil and gas deep under the Gulf of
The Thunder Horse platform
is about 50 percent larger than the next largest floating semi-submersible
rig in the world. It includes advanced technology that will enable it
to process 250,000 barrels of oil and 200 million cubic feet of natural
gas per day - enough energy to provide daily energy needs for 6.5 million
At a development cost of approximately
$5 billion, the new platform features more than 100 technological firsts,
including a new generation of engineering solutions to handle the unique
challenges of tapping into an ultra-deep, high temperature and high pressure
Similarly, to prevent routine
over-board water discharges, the water produced by the platform will be
commingled with seawater and re-injected for reservoir pressure maintenance.
"The Thunder Horse platform
exemplifies the revolution in energy production technology that makes
it possible to tap into oil and gas reserves that previously were inaccessible,"
Norton said. "From the Gulf of Mexico to arctic Alaska, we can increase
domestic energy production in difficult-to-reach places in a safe and
environmentally sensitive way."
"With increasing amounts
of our oil imported from abroad, these technologies are vitally important
to our nation's future energy security," she said. "It is amazing
that so large a structure as Thunder Horse will have such a tiny environmental
footprint, leaving almost no trace of itself in either the sea or the
Under the President's National
Energy Plan, the Interior Department has been providing incentives to
energy companies to take the financial risk of exploring in deep-water
and deep-shelf areas of the gulf. These incentives, which take the form
of royalty relief, ensure taxpayers a fair return while making it worth
the risk for companies to explore hard-to-reach reserves.
The Department expects the
incentives to boost peak oil production in the gulf by 43 percent and
natural gas production by 13 percent over the next decade.
"As we exhaust our nation's
more accessible oil and gas reserves, we must promote the kind of innovation
represented by the Thunder Horse platform to reach new reserves in places
we could never have reached before," Norton said.
The Thunder Horse area, which
is 150 miles offshore of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico, has the potential
to produce approximately 1 billion barrels of oil equivalent over the
life of the field, making it the largest discovery in the gulf to date.
"We estimate the deep water regions of the Gulf may contain over 56 billion barrels of oil equivalent," said Minerals Management Service Director Johnnie Burton. "Huge deep water projects like BP's Thunder Horse and others are expected to increase our gulf production to more than 2 million barrels per day within the next two years."
"The Thunder Horse project is contributing not only to the nation's energy security but also to its economy by providing thousands of jobs," she said.
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