USA (Next Media) - Royal Dutch Shell said on Wednesday it will go ahead with the world's deepest offshore oil and gas production project, pushing the boundaries of technology to produce hydrocarbons from nearly 2 miles (3.2 km) below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico.
Coming three years after the Macondo oil spill disaster, Shell targets first production by 2016, demonstrating confidence in big offshore projects in spite of a downturn in oil prices.
Shell's 100 percent-owned Stones field was discovered in 2005, some 200 miles southwest of New Orleans. It encompasses eight lease blocks in the Gulf of Mexico's Lower Tertiary trend, which is the Gulf's deepest, most challenging and most promising play, estimated to hold up to 15 billion barrels of oil.
"Ultra-deep" wells, drilled in water at least 1.5 km (4,500 feet) deep, and often into several more kilometres of rock to the reservoir below, accounted for around half of all the world's new discoveries in the first half of last year.