Hebron Oil Field, Canada

Hebron is a heavy oil field located 350km south-east of the Newfoundland and Labrador capital St John's, in the Jeanne d'Arc Basin, Canada, in a water depth of 93m. It is the province's fourth offshore development, after Hibernia, Terra Nova and White Rose, and comprises the Hebron, West Ben Nevis and Ben Nevis fields.

The field is operated by ExxonMobil, which has a 36% interest in the project. ExxonMobil took control of the project from Chevron in October 2008.

The joint venture partners in the field development are Chevron Canada Resources (26.7%), Petro-Canada (22.7%), StatoilHydro (9.7%) and the public sector company Energy Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador (ECNL, 4.9%). ECNL got stake in the project after the joint venture partners signed a co-development agreement with the provincial government in August 2008, to give the province a share of the field's revenues.

Early history of Hebron oil field

"Discovered in 1981, the Hebron project has been plagued by delays."

Discovered in 1981, the project has been plagued by delays. In 2002, it was shelved by original operator Chevron because of low oil prices and 'technical difficulties'. In 2004, Chevron considered a C$1bn plan to build an undersea pipeline to tie Hebron back to Hibernia.

In 2006, efforts to kick-start the development ran into trouble after the Newfoundland government demanded greater provincial benefits from the project.

The province paid C$110m for its stake in Hebron, which could give Newfoundland a total return of approximately C$20bn. As far as development costs for the project are concerned, ExxonMobil has no plans to release estimates in the near term.

Development of the Hebron field

Estimated recoverable reserves in Hebron are put at 400m to 700m barrels of 18º to 25º API oil, making it the second largest field in the Jeanne d'Arc Basin after Hibernia.

The initial development includes the Hebron and the West Ben Nevis fields, with future potential for development of Ben Nevis. Plans call for first oil before the end of 2017, if not sooner, reaching an estimated peak between 150,000bpd and 170,000bpd within the first few years of start-up.

To keep to this timeline and meet the deadline for first oil, the development partners submitted a development application to the provincial government in April 2011.

Hebron gravity-based structure (GBS)

Oil from the field will be produced through a large concrete gravity-based structure (GBS). The GBS remains fixed to the ocean's floor through gravity alone with integrated drilling and production topsides. It will have capacity to store 1.45 million barrels of oil in storage compartments.

"Due to its hazardous location, the Hebron GBS needs protection."

Since the Hebron GBS and Hibernia sit in a treacherous area known as Iceberg Alley, the two developments need protection. The Hibernia GBS has a 15m-thick ice belt, which includes a 1.4m-thick external ice wall. The star-shaped ice wall has 16 sharp teeth that distribute the force of an iceberg impact over the surface of the structure.

The Hebron GBS is built at the province's Bull Arm construction yard, where the Hibernia GBS was built. Engineering and design work took place between 2009 and 2011. Construction began in October 2012 with integration, hook-up and commissioning to conclude by 2016.

Hebron contractors

In November 2010, Kiewit-Aker Contractors was awarded the contract to carry out front end engineering and design (FEED) for the GBS. The contract also includes an option to provide detailed engineering, procurement and construction services.

A $61m FEED contract for topsides of the GBS was awarded to WorleyParsons in September 2010. WorleyParsons provided overall project management and awarded subcontracts to third parties. The works were completed by 2011.

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