BP PLC (BP) reported that its Thunder Horse Gulf of Mexico project
faces another setback, as a metallurgical failure will delay first production for at least 18 months pending the rebuilding of all production equipment on the sea bed, according to a Dow Jones Newswire report
The offshore oil and gas platform's new startup date will be mid-2008, a year and a half later than the previous estimate of early 2007, the London-based energy major
The mammoth Thunder Horse field, the largest oil discovery
in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico
, has been plagued by delays since the platform was left listing after the passage of Hurricane Dennis in 2005.
The facility is the world's largest semi-submersible oil and gas platform
, designed to produce 250,000 barrels a day of oil and 200 million cubic feet a day of natural gas
Originally scheduled to start production in the second half of 2005, the startup date was moved to late 2006 after the accident. In July, the discovery of failures in a subsea manifold - an underwater structure designed to send oil
and gas from individual wells up toward the production platform - prompted BP to push the date back to early 2007.
A test revealed similar problems in a second manifold last week, BP said.
The high-pressure, high-temperature nature of the reservoir may have produced "an unexpected metallurgical failure," BP spokesman Neil Chapman said. "This is right at the technical edge of industry understanding."
As a consequence of the failure, BP said it had decided to retrieve both the damaged seabed manifold and a second manifold for further examination and onshore testing.
In view of these failures, BP Monday said it would now retrieve and replace all the subsea components it believes could be at risk. (Source: Dow Jones Newswire