AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition

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Thunder Horse: A Winning Bet in GoM


In 1999, BP announced “Crazy Horse” as a significant deep water Gulf of Mexico Miocene discovery with billion-barrel potential. In 2002, this young colt was introduced at AAPG with a new name – “Thunder Horse.” While the field's production debuted in impressive fashion in 2008, it would be quite a journey as it matured into the robust workhorse it is today. This presentation will provide an overview of the Thunder Horse story, highlighting the path and learnings from early discovery, through initial development, and on to its current status as a giant field producing more than 120,000 bopd with many years of racing life ahead of it. The Thunder Horse complex is a subsea development in 6,000 feet (1,800 metres) water depth in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, 150 miles southeast of New Orleans. Production is captured through a large, moored, semi-submersible production and drilling platform. The field consists of two producing areas, North and South fields, with three main middle and lower Miocene reservoir intervals: Pink, Brown, and Peach, ranging from 18,300 to 24,800 ft TVDSS. Most of the field lies beneath a salt canopy, making the imaging of the steeply dipping three-way closure in the north and the highly faulted anticline in the south quite challenging. The high quality turbidite sand reservoirs have produced more than 300 million barrels to date, with production peaking at ~230,000 bopd and plateauing near current rates for the next few years. Not surprisingly, several pre-production geologic and engineering assumptions have been turned on their heads as a result of the 30+ reservoir penetrations, evolving seismic imaging, and ongoing production. Applications of cutting-edge technology and novel facilities have been instrumental addressing the technical challenges in this deep, complex, HTHP development, setting many benchmarks with respect to scale and technical design through the years.