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Shell celebrates 40 years of deepwater innovation

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World Pipelines,

Shell Offshore Inc. (Shell), a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell plc, has marked 40 years since it pioneered the modern deepwater era, celebrating a legacy of innovation that continues as part of the company's growth strategy.

Shell currently has deepwater projects and exploration opportunities in the US, Brazil, Nigeria, Malaysia, Mexico, Mauritania and in the Western Black Sea. That global presence began with a 1970s prospect, 105 miles southeast of New Orleans in the Gulf of Mexico.

"This is a special anniversary that we proudly celebrate with those who helped us drive that pioneering spirit – from the expertise of our employees and service providers to the support of the communities along the Gulf Coast," said Rick Tallant, Vice President, Production, Deep Water Gulf of Mexico. "It's an honour to be part of that legacy. What happened at Cognac in 1978 set Shell up for success in deepwater in the decades to follow."

In 1978, Shell brought the Cognac oil and gas field into production in 1025 ft of water. Cognac was deeper than any previous offshore discovery and marked the first time that an energy company pushed the frontiers of deep water beyond the 1000 ft water depth. To develop this field, the company designed and built the world's tallest and heaviest drilling and production platform.

When Shell acquired Cognac in a lease sale, the prospect was far beyond the depths common for the industry at that time. A vessel to drill in more than 1000 ft of water did not yet exist. Shell translated teamwork and innovation into history-making accomplishments. After Cognac, the American Society of Civil Engineers presented Shell with the Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement, the first ever awarded to an energy company. By 1982, Cognac was producing 72 000 boe/d.

Shell continued to lead the deepwater industry with more record-breaking, pioneering efforts. From Auger, the world's first tension leg platform, to Stones, the world's deepest offshore oil and gas project, Shell's team in the Gulf of Mexico has consistently found ways to make the seemingly impossible, become possible.

"This remains a heartland for US energy production," noted Tallant. "Our operations here in the Gulf of Mexico account for more than 50% of Shell's oil and gas production in this country."

Across four decades and around the world, deepwater has become the growth priority for Shell's Upstream business with production on track to reach more than 900 000 boe/d by 2020 from already discovered, established reservoirs. Shell designs and operates its deepwater projects to be competitive and, since 2014, has reduced its unit development costs (UDC) and unit operating costs (UOC) by approximately 45%.

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