This was a National Geographic job that turned into an advertising client.
This is from their press materials: The production platform Hibernia is the world’s largest oil platform and consists of a 37,000-tonne integrated topsides facility mounted on a 600,000-tonne gravity base structure. The platform was towed to its final site, and 450,000 tonnes of solid ballast were added to secure it in place. Inside the gravity base structure are storage tanks for 1.2 million barrels of crude oil.
Exploration drilling to map the field began in the 1960s and continued into the 1980s, with the loss of the Ocean Ranger mobile offshore drilling unit (MODU) in the process. In the mid-1980s, a new Conservative federal government under Brian Mulroney pledged that then Crown corporation Petro-Canada (now part of Suncor) would be a lead player in creating a commercially viable offshore development on the Hibernia field. Hibernia would become one of a series of regional “mega-projects” that Mulroney’s government started across Canada during this time.
Following several years of aborted startup attempts, during which time the federal government was forced to increase its liability stake in the project by forming the Crown Corporation Canada Hibernia Holding Corporation, the Hibernia megaproject began construction of the production platform and gravity base structure in the early 1990s.
The Hibernia offshore oil field is owned jointly by ExxonMobil Canada (33.125%), Chevron Canada Resources (26.875%), Suncor (20%), Canada Hibernia Holding Corporation (8.5%), Murphy Oil (6.5%) and StatoilHydro Canada Ltd (5%).
As the Hibernia field was located in an extremely inhospitable environment consisting of rogue waves, fog, icebergs and sea ice, hurricanes, and nor’easter winter storms, engineering analyses determined that the most appropriate drilling platform would be in the form of a gravity base structure (GBS).
The Hibernia GBS sits on the ocean floor approximately 80 metres in depth with its topsides extending approximately 50 metres out of the water. The platform acts as a small concrete island with serrated outer edges designed to counter icebergs. The GBS contains production storage tanks and the remainder of the void space is filled with magnetite ballast with the entire structure weighing in at 1.2 million tons. The GBS was constructed in Bull Arm and the “topsides” production and living quarters was attached to the base while floating in Bull Arm, before the integrated unit (production platform and GBS) was towed out to the actual Hibernia field.
Production commenced on November 17, 1997 and Hibernia has proven to be the most prolific oil well in Canada, with initial production rates in excess of 50,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day from a single well. A dedicated fleet of shuttle tankers continuously operates between the platform and an onshore transshipment facility at Whiffen Head, adjacent to an oil refinery at Come By Chance.
The development of Hibernia involves a considerable amount of drilling services. As of January 1, 2007, over 50 development wells have been successfully drilled from the platform, including several world record “extended reach drilling” wells.
The platform always has at least one logistics support vessel in attendance, which shuttle supplies and provides on-station emergency support. These support vessels are also tasked during the spring and summer months to tow small and medium-sized ice bergs which might collide with the platform, even though the GBS is engineered to withstand such a hit. The crew consists of 280 people who spend 3 weeks on the platform and three weeks on land, flown to and from the platform by helicopter.
From time to time, the platform has been used to refuel search and rescue helicopters on long-range missions in the North Atlantic.