First offshore development project in an iceberg environment
The Hibernia oil field, with between 1 billion and 1.3 billion barrels of recoverable resource, is operated by the Hibernia Management and Development Company (HMDC). ExxonMobil Canada is the lead owner and plays a key role in executing this technologically complex, investment-intensive project. The field is located in the Grand Banks, 315 kilometers (196 miles) east southeast of St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, one of the world’s foggiest places. The area is also noted for its high waves, icebergs, sea ice and hurricanes. The Titanic accident occurred just southeast of this area in 1912.
To ensure operational integrity in this environment, HMDC built Hibernia, the first and only iceberg-resistant gravity-based structure in the world. Installed in 1997, it stands 224 meters (735 feet) tall and is designed to withstand the impact of a 1 million ton iceberg — equivalent to the weight of approximately three Empire State Buildings — with no significant damage. It is also designed to withstand contact with a 6 million ton iceberg, without harm to workers, the environment or operations.
An extensive iceberg-management program minimizes the risk of icebergs reaching the platform. The program uses boats, aircraft and a marine radar system to detect nearby icebergs and track their movement. If winds and ocean currents steer an iceberg toward the platform, one of the platform’s support vessels is deployed to tow or redirect it.
ExxonMobil’s enhanced oil recovery technology has been used to support application of both water and gas injection at Hibernia, with the potential to recover up to 60 percent of the resource from the complex and faulted reservoir formations.
First harsh environment project to use a floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel in North America
ExxonMobil is the second-largest stakeholder in the Terra Nova field, located 35 kilometers (22 miles) southeast of Hibernia.
Terra Nova is the first harsh-environment development in North Americato use an FPSO vessel along with subsea production and injection. Relying on iceberg management technology that ExxonMobil helped develop during the Hibernia exploration phase, the Terra Nova FPSO is designed to handle the impact of small icebergs moving at average speeds, while being able to disconnect and move away from unmanageable ones. Subsea wells are protected from iceberg scouring by being placed in seafloor excavations.