Offshore installation firm McDermott said Monday that its upgraded Amazon vessel was coming to the Gulf of Mexico to support a subsea contract for the Whale Development in Alaminos Canyon.

Oil major Shell in July reached a final investment decision for its Whale deepwater field development. Discovered in 2017, Whale will feature a semi-submersible production host in more than 8,600 feet (2621 meters) of water with 15 oil-producing wells.

McDermott will provide engineering, procurement, construction, installation, and commissioning (EPCIC) for 30 miles (50 kilometers) of pipeline and approximately nine miles (15 kilometers) of umbilical to connect five drill centers to a new offshore platform. The project will begin immediately and is expected to be completed in 2024.

Samik Mukherjee, McDermott’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer said: “This contract, which will take place in a water depth of more than 9,000 feet, is a massive opportunity to demonstrate how the Amazon, with its industry-leading pipelay capabilities, is redefining what is possible within ultra-deepwater construction. We are also looking forward to bringing the Amazon into the Gulf of Mexico—especially as we use this opportunity to continue our long track record of successful project execution.”

The company said that the Amazon’s upgraded specs enable highly automated operations, the production of hex joints from single or double joints using an onboard multi-joint facility, and a pipe hold capacity of 10,000 metric tons. 

“Its increased level of automation also enables a significant reduction in the crew numbers required to safely perform pipelay operations—boosting its operational resilience against the ongoing COVID-19 landscape,” the company said.

McDermott’s North Ocean 102 will install the umbilical and the Amazon will transport and install the rigid ultra-deepwater pipelines.

The Whale development is 60%-owned and operated by Shell Offshore Inc. (60% operator). Chevron, as a partner, owns 40%.

The field is expected to start production in 2024, with the expected peak output of around 100,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d). The field currently has an estimated, recoverable resource volume of 490 million boe.

To be located in the Alaminos Canyon Block 773, adjacent to the Shell-operated Silvertip field, about 10 miles from the Shell-operated Perdido platform and approximately 200 miles southwest of Houston, Whale will be Shell’s 12th deepwater host in the Gulf of Mexico.

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