Field/project development

Shell Greenlights Investment in Whale Development

US Gulf project will use a similar floating solution to the operator’s Vito project due onstream next year.

A rendering of Shell's Vito platform. The Whale floater will be a near copy of this host destined for the US Gulf.

Shell has signed off on the final investment decision (FID) to develop its Whale discovery in the deepwater US Gulf of Mexico (GOM). The company will utilize a semisubmersible host that features a 99% replicated hull and an 80% replication of the topsides from its ongoing Vito project, also in the GOM.

The Whale development is in Alaminos Canyon Block 773, adjacent to the Shell-operated Silvertip field and about 10 miles from the Shell-operated Perdido platform. The project is expected to reach peak production of approximately 100,000 BOE/D and currently has an estimated, recoverable resource volume of 490 million BOE. Whale will be Shell’s twelfth deepwater host in the GOM and is currently scheduled to begin production in 2024.

“Whale is the latest demonstration of our focus on simplification, replication, and capital projects with shorter cycle times to drive greater value from our advantaged positions,” said Wael Sawan, Shell upstream director. “We are building on more than 40 years of deepwater expertise to deliver competitive projects that yield high-margin barrels so that we are able to meet the energy demands of today while generating the cash required to help fund the development of the energy of the future.”

Whale will be the second Shell-operated deepwater development in the GOM to employ a simplified, cost-efficient host design. With this development approach, Shell anticipates an internal rate of return estimated to be greater than 25%. It will feature energy-efficient gas turbines and compression systems and will be the latest addition to Shell’s GOM portfolio where its production is among the lowest greenhouse-gas intensity in the world for producing oil, according to the operator.

The Whale semisubmersible production facility will be moored in 8,600 ft of water and host 15 oil-producing wells.

By leveraging the engineering, construction and supply chain of Vito—due on stream next year—Whale is expected to achieve first oil 7.5 years after discovery. The cycle time includes the impact from COVID cash-preservation efforts that delayed project FID by 1 year.

Shell operates Whale with a 60% working interest. Partner Chevron holds the remaining 40% stake.