First Oil Flows at Argos in the Gulf of Mexico
The semisubmersible host is the centerpiece of BP’s $9-billion Mad Dog Phase 2 project.
Oil production has successfully started at BP’s Argos offshore platform in the deepwater US Gulf of Mexico (GOM). Commissioning delays kept the facility from coming online in 2022 as originally planned. With a gross production capacity of up to 140,000 B/D, it is BP’s fifth platform in the GOM and the first new BP-operated production facility in the region since 2008. The semisubmersible platform ultimately will increase BP's gross operated production capacity in the GOM by an estimated 20%. BP expects production to ramp up through 2023.
“The startup of Argos is a fantastic achievement that helps deliver our integrated energy strategy—investing in today’s energy system and, at the same time, investing in the energy transition,” said BP Chief Executive Bernard Looney. “As BP's most digital facility worldwide, applying our latest technologies, Argos will strengthen our key position in the Gulf of Mexico for years to come.”
The platform, located in Green Canyon Block 780, is the centerpiece of BP’s $9-billion Mad Dog Phase 2 project, which extends the life of the super-giant oil field discovered in 1998. It is one of nine high-margin major projects that the operator plans to start up by the end of 2025 globally.
Operating in 4,500 ft of water about 190 miles south of New Orleans, Louisiana, Argos stands 27 stories tall. The platform has a deck the length and width of an American football field and weighs more than 60,000 tons. The name Argos, chosen by the project team and an employee survey, is a reference to Odysseus’ loyal dog from Homer’s "The Odyssey" and a nod to the Mad Dog spar located 6 miles northeast.
“Projects like Argos don’t just happen,” said Ewan Drummond, senior vice president, projects, production, and operations for BP. “They take years of careful planning, execution excellence, and brilliant teamwork. 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.”
Argos is BP’s most digitally advanced platform operating in the GOM, featuring BP’s proprietary LoSal Enhanced Oil Recovery and Dynamic Digital Twin technologies. It boasts waterflood injection capacity of more than 140,000 B/D of low-salinity water to help increase oil recovery from the Mad Dog field. The platform also has a Dynamic Digital Twin, a BP patent-pending software that links complex data from the platform to 3D digital models of those systems, allowing remote operators wearing virtual reality headsets to access data in real time.
BP operates Argos with a 60.5% working interest. Co-owners include Woodside Energy (23.9%) and Chevron (15.6%).
The Mad Dog field, discovered in 1998, has been in production since 2005 through the Mad Dog production spar. Continued appraisal drilling in 2009 and 2011 doubled the resource estimate of the Mad Dog field to more than 5 billion BOE, creating the need for a second platform.
In the early 2010s, BP and partners simplified and standardized the original Argos design, reducing the overall project cost by about 60%. Construction began in March 2018 at Samsung Heavy Industries shipyard in South Korea. More than 15 million hours of work went into building the platform there.
The platform arrived at Kiewit Offshore Services fabrication yard in Ingleside, Texas, in April 2021 after taking a 2-month, 16,000-mile journey onboard the Boskalis BOKA Vanguard heavy transport vessel. After final preparations and regulatory inspections, Argos was towed 380 miles offshore to the wellsites for final hookup and commissioning work.