Marlin tension leg platform (TLP) is an offshore oil field facility operated by Freeport-McMoRan. It is located approximately 100 miles off the coast of New Orleans and Louisiana. Set at a depth of 3,254 feet in the Gulf of Mexico, this platform has been operational since 1999, and it has had a colorful history.
A History Overview
Marlin was set up in 1999 by British Petroleum (BP). At the time, the company was looking to execute an ambitious project – the setting up of a hub platform for the optimal processing of oil and gas. Marlin TLP was established as a three-well platform consisting of four column hulls linked to each other via pontoons.
The platform was designed with the following capacity in mind – 250MMcf per day and 40,000 barrels per day. Currently, British Petroleum owns an interest of 75 percent. The rest belongs to Shell.
The story began in 1993 when the Marlin Oil Field was discovered. Later on, the Nile field was explored in 1997. The TLP consists of all the three subsea Marlin fields – the Nile, the King and the Dorado oil fields.
While Marlin ranked among the most productive platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, this facility hasn’t been free from problems.
Upon its completion, the platform had steel pipes used for stabilization collapse into a well. It took the team six months to identify the issue and come up with a viable solution. The issue stemmed from the high temperature inside the well. This is why insulated tubing had to be used to counter the detrimental effect of high temperature.
The completion of Marlin TLP cost approximately 500 million dollars. This sum makes the platform one of the most expensive BP facilities in the Gulf.
Challenges and Accidents
There have been no reports of major challenges and injuries sustained by individuals working on the BP platform. As already mentioned, however, a number of technical challenges have been experienced through the years.
After overcoming the stabilization steel pipes problem, the platform had another issue. Process constraints were in place because of fears of equipment damage. Because of this fact, BP wasn’t capable of maximizing the output (regardless of the fact that it was to extract from some of the richest Gulf of Mexico fields).
The use of the right hardware to observe all processes and monitor the output was a viable solution for the technical issues. This technological modification occurred in 2003. The simultaneous manipulation of various outputs increased the platform’s production capacity and addressed fears about equipment failure at the same time.
Also in 2003, a safety zone was established around the platform. The Coast Guard set the perimeter to redirect significant vessel traffic. Concerns arose for the safety of personnel, as well as for the environment. According to an official report, any collision with the facility could contribute to serious accidents, injuries, and property damage. Since this is a high production platform, the report states that having a vessel running into it could contribute to a “catastrophic event.”
The Coast Guard agreed with the report and the request for the establishment of a safety zone. After the enforcement of the rule, the risk of serious injuries, deaths and oil spills has been reduced.