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What makes the new Hess-Chevron offshore rig so unique?

A unique spar platform is finally being put to use in the Gulf of Mexico, and that’s not even the most exciting part of the project.

This spar platform was entirely constructed in the United States, and according to Jennifer Larino for the Times-Picayune, it employed 7,000 workers in the process. Why does this make the spar platform unique? Most offshore drilling rigs are constructed in Asian countries because of the difference in labor and material costs. But the spar platform was produced domestically, indicating further trends toward energy independence for the U.S.

The spar platform is now being operated in a formation called the Tubular Bells field approximately 135 miles south of New Orleans. The project is jointly owned by Hess Corp. and Chevron USA, though Hess is the majority holder at about 57 percent. Hess has also been responsible for the operation of the project since 2010, though the development did not begin in earnest until 2011.

The Tubular Bells field was initially discovered in 2003, when it was tapped into by the infamous Deepwater Horizon, and could yield as many as 120 million barrels of oil equivalent (BOE). Now that the Hess-Chevron project’s three wells have been completed, the operation can progress into production. Hess estimates that the wells will yield 50,000 BOE per day by the end of this year.

The offshore project came with a $2.3 billion price tag, and Hess states that the spar platform was produced within budget, despite keeping the project domestic. The hefty investment is expected to create profits for decades.

Spar platforms, unlike many conventional types of offshore rigs, are constructed to sit atop a single column. Fuelfix reports that this particular platform features 18 million pounds of the decks and equipment that make up a production platform roosted on a 584-foot-long cylinder.

Oil and gas development has been picking up once again in the Gulf of Mexico. Hess is also involved in the Stampede project which is expected to begin production in 2018 and yield up to 80,000 barrels of crude daily. In addition, Chevron recently made headlines with the discovery of a payzone in the Lower Tertiary Wilcox Sands.

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