My visit to Shell’s Olympus drilling rig and platform in the Gulf of Mexico concluded today at “One Shell Square”. That’s where the oil company has offices in downtown New Orleans.
We learned that drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico can cost up to $1.5 million a day to operate. For that reason the company spends a lot of effort trying to reduce what it calls NPT or “non-productive time”.
We also saw the on-shore control room for Olympus (pictured above). Shell, BP and Chevron constructed an underwater fiber optic network from Mississippi to Texas in 2009. That allows workers onshore to constantly monitor what’s happening out on the rig. They can look at any of the 160 cameras on board and monitor all sorts of instrument readings to assist their co-workers.
Finally we saw a place called “The Bridge”. Sadly this was not a Star Trek reference. This “team serves as a bridge between platform operators running equipment and problem-solving engineers”, according to Shell’s web site. This group collects 700 million pieces of data a day and then analyzes them for problems. When they notice something that appears out-of-whack, they alert others to see if something needs to be fixed.
One big thing that has struck me during this trip is just how complicated it is to get oil out of the earth these days. A lot of the crude that’s easy for companies to extract is either gone or controlled by state-owned firms now. So that leaves companies like Shell out in the Gulf of Mexico tapping into reserves that require a lot of technology and money to reach.
Thanks for joining me the last few days—I enjoyed it!