Today marks a huge milestone for Newfoundland and Labrador. ExxonMobil confirmed that the Hebron project has, in fact, produced it’s FIRST OIL, making November 28, 2017, a very significant day! The first of an estimated 700 million barrels of oil has been produced at Hebron which will bring not only oil but jobs, income, equity and spin-off economic activity to the operators, suppliers and people of the province.
Way back in 1980, an oilfield was discovered offshore Newfoundland. They called it Hebron. 37 years later, that discovery has materialized into a mammoth oil project that will not only support world oil demand, oil and gas companies, contractors and suppliers but it will also bring prosperity to the people of Canada. I like to think of Hebron as our ‘Castle in the Sea’. Now that oil discovery is producing oil.
OIL & GAS – THE NUMBER ONE COMMODITY ON THE PLANET
If you think oil and gas are not that important anymore, or that “new energy” is the in-thing and will replace oil and gas anytime soon, think again. Oil and gas are global necessities and remain the number one commodity on the planet. That’s why companies and the smartest minds on Earth are investing in oil exploration around the globe and building world-class oil and gas projects in Newfoundland’s offshore.
All you need to do is follow where the oil companies are investing to see where the predicted payoffs will be. In Newfoundland’s offshore, major oil companies from around the world are spending billions of dollars on offshore lands for exploration rights, as well as constructing some of the most technologically advanced oil extraction solutions in the world in the province.
A GREAT INVESTMENT
To extract the oil from the Hebron project operators used a Gravity Base Structure (GBS), complemented with an intricate Topsides. It’s a giant rig that cost over $14 billion to construct. Imagine the advancement of thought and technology that it took to build it. The engineering. The construction. The workers. The infrastructure. The economic boost. The transfer of technology. The employment.
Over the last ten years, royalties from the province’s three producing offshore projects (Hibernia, Terra Nova and White Rose) have totalled over $19 billion. Substantial investments by industry in the Newfoundland and Labrador economy have led to significant growth in the local supply and service industry. Collectively companies involved in Hibernia, Terra Nova, White Rose, and Hebron have spent more than $23 billion in the province to date, which represents more than half of all project expenditures. Hebron will yield approximately $10 billion in royalties and benefits over the next 20 years for the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
THE HEBRON PROJECT
During the peak construction phase of the Hebron project, it employed over 7000 people, with over 5000 at the Bull Arm Site in Arnold’s Cove, Newfoundland. As of December 31, 2016, there were 3,756 people working on the Hebron project of which 91% were Newfoundland and Labrador residents. The winding down of construction means the end of an employment era that has been lucrative for the people of the province.
You can think of the Hebron platform as a man-made castle that will live out its life in the sea. Hebron is a world-class mega-project that will operate 300 miles offshore Newfoundland, in a place known for icebergs and harsh weather. Some have called it Iceberg Alley, others call it home. It is the very same waters that engulfed the Titanic after it hit an iceberg and sank. However, Iceberg Alley didn’t stop the creative minds of the oil and gas industry. In fact, it was a challenge worthy of their fortitude.
Like its sister project Hibernia, which has been in operation for 20 years offshore Newfoundland, Hebron’s gravity base is designed to withstand ice impact, brutal storms, and wave conditions. However, most icebergs are lassoed and pulled out of harm’s way, before they ever reach a platform. The GBS consists of a reinforced concrete structure designed to withstand sea ice, icebergs, wind and waves. Imagine what it took to make that happen. All of this truly is a technological wonder.
Construction of the Hebron GBS began in the dry dock at Bull Arm in October 2012, and for the last five years, a champion work-force has built the platform from the ground up. On YouTube you can watch a time-lapse video of the five years in action – it’s truly incredible. The GBS was floated to the deep water site in July 2014 for continued construction.
The topsides of the GBS consist of the following six components:
– the drilling support module
– the derrick equipment set
– the utility process module
– the flare boom
– the helideck and lifeboat stations
– the accommodations module
Integration of the topsides components and mating onto the GBS was completed in December 2016. You have to stop and think about that for a second. Imagine taking a mammoth gravity base that is ballasted in the ocean and mounting a huge structure on top of it. Its akin to putting a hotel on top of a concrete mountain. To mate the topsides with the GBS there must be absolute precision. Factors like waves, weight, weather, boats, people and many other variables complicate the task. Talk about beating the odds with scientific ingenuity. This is phenomenal.
With undeniably one of the highest safety records in the world, the Hebron project boasts a safety result of ‘40 million hours of work in the province, without any lost time due to injuries’. That’s truly incredible for a project of this size. Programs, policies, and a safety culture like no other is what makes this possible.
People are often misinformed about the oil industry and its hazards. The reality is, this industry is the most highly regulated in the world when it comes to safety and the environment. Given the safety success of the Hebron project, Newfoundland, quite possibly, could be the world’s leader in safety and environmental policies and procedures right now. The results speak for themselves.
The Hebron project owners consist of ExxonMobil Canada Properties, Chevron Canada Limited, Suncor Energy Inc., Statoil Canada Ltd., and the Newfoundland and Labrador provincial energy company, Nalcor Energy – Oil and Gas Inc. It’s the vision and leadership of the project owners that have balanced the financial risk of such a massive undertaking with the economic challenges of oil price decline. We can only say thank you for completing the project in the midst of very tough times and CONGRATULATIONS on FIRST OIL!
220 people will live and work on the Hebron platform. Equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, this platform sleeps like a cruise ship, operates as a hotel, and motors like a monster truck on steroids. It’s taken $14 billion to construct, and when you stand within its frame and structure, you begin to understand the sheer magnitude of this feat.
Think of Hebron as a concrete island floating in the water, stabilized by an intricate ballast system that surely is a technological wonder. Here are the details:
Height of GBS – 120 metres
Diameter of GBS base – 130 metres
Shaft diameter – 35 metres
Concrete volume – 132,000 cubic metres
Rebar – (density 300 kg/m3) approx. 40,000 tonnes
Post-tensioning steel – 3,400 tonnes
Steel skirts – 400 tonnes
Mechanical outfitting – 8,000 tonnes (Piping systems & structural steel)
Well slots – 52
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