Auger: Deep-water Pioneer

Auger: Deep-water Pioneer

The Gulf of Mexico –
130 miles from shore, Auger, 50,000 tonnes of
engineering masterpiece has been anchored in 2,800 feet
of water, for twenty years. Auger, clearly,
was a deep water pioneer. After a lifetime of
drilling milestones Auger was scheduled
to retire, but one elusive oil field
still remained. Auger had one last shot –
and it hit the jackpot, kick-starting an historic
come back. Auger makes Cardamom possible Cardamom extends the life of Auger. This is the story of Shell’s
legendary deep-water platform and the oil field that’s
re-inventing it. We’re going to be
testing another line that comes from
the UTP panel. This deep-water drill rig and
production facility looks like many others in
the Gulf of Mexico, but Auger’s unique. Auger’s a special platform for me,
the first TLP I’ve ever worked on It’s very special to me – it’s
my home for 17 years. Three decades ago, a rig
this far off shore, in water this deep, was considered impossible. It was generally thought
by the industry, as late as early 1980’s that
beyond the shelf edge which would be in water that was
greater than 600 to 1,000 feet, there was likely not going to be
commercial accumulations of oil and gas. In the late 80’s everyone thought
off-shore technology had reached it’s limit with
‘Bullwinkle’ Installed in 1,300 feet of water, and five times the height of the
Statue of Liberty, it still holds the record for the tallest structure
ever placed in the sea. You’re building this enormous
structure, almost 1,500 feet tall, and perched up on top of it is the
usable part of the building It’s like building the largest
skyscraper in the world and occupying the top two floors, the rest of it is just holding it
up above the waves. But Shell wanted to drill in water
twice as deep as ‘Bullwinkles’ It required a new breed of
platform, and a giant leap of faith. Plans for the world’s first
‘Tension Leg Platform’, a rig anchored into the
deep-sea floor were drawn up. The Tension Leg Platform –
the concept was enormous, it was game changing in many ways. It floats on large pontoons and the connection to the sea-floor
is not through the fixed structure but rather through what are
called ‘Tendons’ that hold it in place
and they’re under tension. In the mid 90’s, Auger, the
pioneer ‘Tension Leg Platform’ or TLP, began drilling at an unprecedented
depth. It’s design was quickly replicated. Four more were built, and
installed in the Gulf. As the new century approached, and the oil directly below
Auger diminshed, it found a new lease of life
as a hub, processing oil from
deep-water fields up to 20 miles away. So from the TLP you can actually
control what goes on, on those wells that are located
many miles away on the sea bed. But in 2008, Auger’s six
sub-sea fields began to slow. She was scheduled for an
oil rig’s inevitable fate, de-commissioning. Nice and easy, buddy. Auger’s decline, or end of life
was somewhere around 2015. But talk turned to a mysterious
new field that might be near by –
Cardamom. The elusive oil field had been
hidden beneath a vast impenetrable salt deposit,
six miles below the sea floor. We’ve always known
that the oil was down there, or thought it was, but it wasn’t
until more recently with some of the new
seismic tools that we have that we actually could prove
that it was there, and actually make it
worth while to go after it. But reaching Cardamom meant
drilling a well like no other. Using a directional drilling
technique, Auger pierced the sea floor and
steered the drill two miles horizontally through
the earth’s crust around the salt deposit –
directly into the oil. When you drill wells
at that depth, they’re eight inches in
diameter, two miles might as well be the
other side of the solar system At 31,000 feet from the drill deck, this was the longest directional
well ever made, right into a giant find. It’s always a gamble, because you
can never be sure, you’re always going to be making
you best guess. What it tells you about the
Gulf of Mexico is that there’s probably still
a lot to be done there, that will keep the industry busy
for a very long time. Auger was saved from imminent
de-commissioning, but in 2010, as Auger geared
up for it’s big break, disaster struck when a blow-out at the
deep-water ‘Horizon’ oil rig killed 11 crew. The well gushed into the Gulf for
87 days, creating the worst accidental
marine oil spill in history. A six month moratorium on
drilling in the Gulf, left Auger’s Cardamom discovery
in limbo. Stricter regulations were
introduced, but Shell’s robust approach
to operating safely and responsibly meant that Auger was the first rig
to recommence drilling. In the last couple of years, we’ve actually doubled capacity
on the platform. Once Cardamom comes on stream, we’re going to add
another 60% on top of that. And now Cardamom is almost
ready to come on-line, but not before Auger’s
multi-billion dollar upgrade is complete. Soon, this deep-water veteran
will be able to handle the mighty Cardamom. Auger’s old – she’s 20 years old there’s a lot of work, there’s a
lot of money being spent on Auger. We’re revitalising the platform,
to make it a platform that will last another 20 years. Auger very much was a pioneer, and you could say now,
with Cardamom, as a six mile deep
sub-salt discovery, Auger continues to be a pioneer. Today, Auger’s history has made it
a deep-water legend. It’s a success story unlike any
other in off-shore exploration. In 1997 I never thought that we
would be here long enough for me to retire. Now that Cardamom’s come on board, I love Auger, so maybe I
could retire right here.


  1. So you're saying that you are drilling oil with a platform that should have been retired, but hasn't been because it can drill even more poluting oil to make a bigger profit for Shell and keep its investors happy?

  2. Boo stop killing the environment unsubscribe to shell they will cause us to die if they continue and if there gone you can just buy a electric car and charge it with solar power and if it rains take a bike gas stations you are obsolete

  3. I love engineering victories like this. Plus, a win for America… It's awesome living in an energy independent and economically superior nation.

  4. I can not believe that shell is boasting about a piece of rusty oily metal that will continue polluting

  5. Waa Waa Waa……I'm proud to say I have worked on Auger many times since 97. It's a nice clean rig and despite what all you idiots say, offshore rigs pollute WAY LESS than your damn house heater or BBQ pit. We are monitored constantly by the Gov. for even a single drop of fluid going over-board. Go eat a mesquite tree

  6. The world's first TLP was that installed by ED Horton off Los Angeles. This was followed in late 70s in North Sea by Conoco Hutton TLP on which I, Craig Lang, was Conoco Staff Engineer. The concept is far too expensive and wrong in principle, fighting buoyancy instead of using it and just like standing under a load, and a multi-thousand tonne load at that! I saw a much cheaper solution in a conventionally moored semisubmersible that was approved by Shell Dr Paul Kerckoff and built in 2002 for Shell Na Kika. See for the MPSS as a FPSO, no turret!

  7. See??? “There are only so many people Shell can employ”! Employees are SLAVES!The wage is the cause of world poverty and should be destroyed! All people on Earth should OWN ALL things, including corporations, which are SLAVE PLANTATIONS! If only America could say that, and say the wage is illegal, and stop it, it would immediately END WORLD POVERTY! Stop buying anything, and that will destroy it eventually, because the rich will have LESS INCOME! STOP BUYING especially from corporations! Pay more from the small businesses! But there aren’t many, see?? See how corporations cause world poverty, and all people should OWN all things, not just the rich! Capitalism is the cause of world poverty, and if you don’t believe it still, may God help you but He won’t! You’ll lose your jobs soon and won’t be able to ever get a new one, so you can see how EVIL capitalism is.

  8. Message to oil companies. Stop drilling new wells in the ocean.

    Why don’t you maximize and find and perfect all of the land based oil. This ocean rig things are way too inneficent and dangerous.

    Get back on land where humans belong, and make the system of the future. Seriously snap out of it

  9. Great video's shell, very interesting so i thought i would have a look at bp's video's and they have got nothing on you.
    As an offshore worker i can say shell is one of the best out there.

  10. The majority of the anti-Shell commenters can't spell or construct legible sentences. The less you know, the more you think you know.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.