Field/project development

TotalEnergies Walks Away From North Platte Project in Gulf of Mexico

The French operator withdraws from flagship deepwater project.

The North Platte discovery straddles four lease blocks in the deepwater Garden Banks area of the US GOM.

TotalEnergies, through its affiliate TotalEnergies E&P USA, has decided not to sanction and so to withdraw from the North Platte deepwater project in the US Gulf of Mexico (GOM), calling into question the development’s future. According to TotalEnergies, the decision was taken “as the company has better opportunities of allocation of its capital within its global portfolio.” The operator did not elaborate on what those opportunities might be.

TotalEnergies holds a 60% operated interest in North Platte. Joint-interest owner Equinor holds the remaining 40% stake. TotalEnergies has notified Equinor and the relevant authorities of its immediate withdrawal from the project and of its resignation as operator which will be effective following a short transition period to ensure an orderly handover of operatorship.

North Platte is a Paleogene discovery located across Garden Banks 959, Garden Banks 915, Garden Banks 916, and Garden Banks 958, in water depth of around 4,850 ft. It was one of three high pressure-/high temperature- fields under development in the GOM that would require 20,000-psi technology.

In 2018, Statoil and Total completed their acquisition of Cobalt International Energy’s 60% operated interest in the North Platte discovery for an aggregate purchase price of $339 million. The partners had jointly presented the winning bid in a bankruptcy auction of some of Cobalt’s assets that was held on 6 March 2018.

Statoil then owned a 40% nonoperated interest in North Platte, while Total increased its then 40% interest to 60% and took over operatorship.

TotalEnergies remains a partner in Chevron’s Anchor project—another Paleogene find— which reached FID (final investment decision) in 2019 and will be drilled out using Transocean’s newbuild 20,000-psi Deepwater Titan drillship. Stage 1 of the Anchor development comprises a seven-well subsea development and semisubmersible floating production unit. First oil is anticipated in 2024.

Separately, Beacon Offshore Energy reached FID on the Shenandoah project last year and has contracted another new, 20,000 psi-capable Transocean drillship, the Deepwater Atlas, for the wells on that development. Hyundai Heavy Industries is building the semisubmersible floating production unit (FPU) for the project. First oil is expected in late 2024 or early 2025.

TotalEnergies awarded a front-end engineering design (FEED) contract for North Platte to Worley in early 2020. The base development plan comprised eight subsea wells and two subsea drilling bases connected via two production loops to a newbuild, lightweight FPU capable of producing 75,000 BOPD. Production would have been exported through existing oil and gas subsea networks.

At the time of the FEED launch, TotalEnergies President for Exploration and Production Arnaud Breuillac called the decision a “tangible example of our strategy to increase our footprint in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico.”