Nfld. & Labrador

Hebron project: ExxonMobil still committed to first-oil by 2017

A top official with ExxonMobil says the company is still committed to first-oil by 2017, dispelling widespread speculation about delays.

Sadie Sellars, Hebron project’s technical manager, says topside modules nearing completion

Sadie Sellars is the technical manager for the Hebron project with ExxonMobil, the majority owner. (Terry Roberts/CBC)

A top official with the majority owner of the Hebron project says the company is still committed to first-oil by 2017, dispelling widespread speculation about delays.

Some delegates at the Placentia Bay Industrial Showcase in Placentia were openly talking about delays on the project, specifically about construction of two critical topsides modules in Korea.

ExxonMobil technical manager Sadie Sellars reaffirmed Thursday earlier commitments to a 2017 production phase.

She said one of the two modules being built in Korea, the derrick equipment set, will arrive by the end of this year.

She did not give a timeframe for the second, the utilities/process module, which is also being built in Korea. It's this module, weighing some 34,000 tonnes, that sources say is behind schedule.

Construction of the Hebron oil platform at Bull Arm is ongoing, with officials saying Thursday the target of producing first-oil by 2017 is still within reach. (CBC)

"The project's target for first-oil is 2017 … and 2017 is what we're all focused on," Sellars said when questioned by CBC News after he address.

Other topsides being built in Newfoundland and Labrador "are also nearing completion," she said, referring to the accommodations module, which is being built at Bull Arm alongside the massive gravity based structure, and the drilling support module under construction in Marystown.

Two so-called ancillaries are also being finalized. They include the flare boom, which is being worked on in Port aux Basques, and the helideck and life-boat stations in Bay Bulls.

Sellars said operational readiness activities are also well underway.

The topsides, meanwhile, will be transported to the Bull Arm site where they will be mated and placed atop the concrete base.

The completed platform will eventually be towed to the Hebron field, some 340 kilometres to the east of St. John's, not far from the iconic Hibernia platform.

Estimates put the number of recoverable barrels of oil at 700 million.

Construction on the Hebron Project began in late 2012, and the job spinoffs  have been impressive.

Sellars said it took a workforce of 5,000 people to get to concrete base to a height of 71 metres, and the centre shaft will eventually reach a height of 120 metres.

Sellars said there have been many milestones today, but she was especially pleased to report an impressive safety record.

She said the Hebron Project has now record 40-million hours without a lost-time incident.


Terry Roberts is a journalist with CBC's bureau in St. John's.


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