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Cardamom Development: Ensuring Maximum Value While Managing Significant Uncertainties

David Garner, Mary Beth Green, Colette Hirstius, Duane Johnson, William Jorgensen, Mario Rojas, and Hao Zhou
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Shell's 2010 Deep Cardamom discovery in Garden Bank Block 427 provides an example of successful near-field exploration through integrating new technologies, as well as a template for fast-tracking development and first production from discoveries adjacent to existing infrastructure. This approach has challenged the way Shell has managed developments of this scale in the past. However, in the case of the Cardamom Development, the incremental value gain justifies the risk. Shell's Auger Field, online since 1994, has produced >300 mln BOE and the TLP hosts six subsea fields. By 2007, the field had become Shell's first 'Super Mature' deepwater asset, thereby requiring a different approach to extending Hub life while enabling access to deeper and higher risk, higher reward upside. Following a 2011 appraisal drilling program, the system selection decision for the Cardamom development was made in Q1 2012. However, two appraisal wells remained to be drilled in 2012, so the system selection decision had to account for uncertain results in those wells, as well as risk to costs and timing of key project milestones, the most important of which is delivering first oil production in 2014. Making high dollar investment decisions in the absence of complete information can be perilous; however, it can also provide more flexibility in design and, most importantly, allow for the capture of financial upside from acceleration. To ensure the Cardamom Development meets its delivery promise, without eroding value, has required continual reassessment of remaining risks and incorporation of new well information into updated project economics.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90167©2013 GCAGS and GCSSEPM 63rd Annual Convention, New Orleans, Louisiana, October 6-8, 2013