The response effort executed by Shell staff, contractors and governmental agencies to return the Shell operated crude oil infrastructure to service after Hurricane Ivan was truly a monumental accomplishment. The unusual and unprecedented circumstances encountered as a result of the storm cannot be compared to any other event that has been encountered by Shell Pipeline in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM).

As a result of Hurricane Ivan, the Shell crude oil systems in the eastern GOM region were completely disabled. The crude oil infrastructure transports production from Nakika, Petronius, Ram-Powell, Main Pass (MP) 289, the MP 252 Complex, and Horn Mountain fields, along with other production facilities in the eastern GOM. The force of Ivan also impacted pump stations, delivery terminals, and pipelines along the entire system, which is used to transport over 400,000 barrels per day.

Overview of the Response Effort

The hurricane struck the northern GOM on September 17, 2004. It traveled in a northerly direction through the GOM and directly impacted Nakika, Ram-Powell, and Horn Mountain production facilities. Shell's pipeline infrastructure is the major link in the Mississippi Delta area that connects these assets to the Louisiana refineries and onshore distribution network. These pipelines are routed primarily on the eastern side of the Mississippi River. The lines were decimated by mudslides, displaced debris and currents that resulted in risers being severed from platforms, pipeline crossings being damaged, pipelines being displaced in mudslide areas, pipelines being fully severed, pipelines being impacted by mooring lines from drill rigs that broke free of their anchors during the storm, and debris landing over pipelines. The associated pump stations and delivery terminals along the Mississippi River were also completely inundated by water and debris rendering them inoperable. As a part of the response effort, oil cleanup crews were mobilized to contain and pickup oil that was threatening the Delta coastline. The list above highlights the aftermath that provided the incredible challenge the Ivan Response and Repair Team now faced.

Due to the severity of damage to pipeline systems owned by Shell and others, creative solutions were required to contain leaking oil, repair the affected systems, and return service to production facilities as soon as possible. As an example, an abandoned third party subsea connection and associated pipeline was connected between the Shell infrastructure and a competing system in less than two weeks. This allowed significant production to be returned to service a full six weeks before the competing system was repaired. Another challenge was the containment of oil from an offshore leak site in the Main Pass 69 area, which is also located near the Delta Wildlife Refuge Area. The team designed and constructed a containment structure that was placed over the pipeline's leak source under water, which allowed recovery of oil from the pipeline without allowing it to reach the surface. A quick and well executed response from the Ivan Team kept impact to a minimum.

Multiple work crews and vessels were dispatched to perform the repair work simultaneously.

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