This paper summarizes the design and construction of platforms, facilities and pipelines for the Beta field, offshore Southern California. The field was discovered by Shell and its partners during the summer of 1976.

The first phase of field development consisting of bridge-connected drilling platform Ellen and production platform Elly in 265 feet of water has been completed and the field is on production. These are large platforms. The production platform includes a large power generation plant to provide power for lifting low gravity crude oil with submersible.bottom hole pumps. Design and siting of the platforms provided unusual challenges due to the steeplysloping bottom and the earthquake environment.

Major components of the platforms were fabricated in widely scattered locations. Both jackets were fabricated in Malaysia and their ocean tows set world records. Drilling and production deck modules were fabricated in Japan. Other major components were fabricated in the states of Washington, California, Texas and Louisiana. The paper describes the unique project control and management techniques employed to keep the project on schedule and within budget.


The Beta field is located offshore Southern California in the Gulf of Santa Catalina, see Figure 1. The field was discovered in mid-1976 by the Shell-Occidental-Aminoil-Santa Fe Energy Hamilton group with Shell as the operator.

Located about nine miles from shore, the field is about five miles long and somewhat less than a mile wide. Estimated recoverable reserves under the Shell operated portion of the field total about 150 million barrels of oil. The oil accumulation is shallow, ranging from 2700 to 5000 feet. The oil is heavy with crude gravities ranging from 11 to 22 degrees API. Little or no experience exists producing this type of heavy oil offshore Water depth over the Shell operated portion of the field ranges from 200 to 1000 feet. This steeplysloping bottom necessitated a complex platform siting study to optimize reservoir recovery as a function of number and location of platforms and attendant reach and cost of development wells.

Optimum development will be accomplished with an eighty well capacity drilling platform, named Ellen, in 265 feet of water and a future 60 well capacity drilling platform, named Eureka, in 700 feet of water. The shallow water platform has 30 curved conductors and the deep water platform will have 35 curved conductors. Wells will be drilled at angles up to 80 degrees. A single production platform, named Elly, installed along with the initial drilling platform handles all of the field's production.

Phase one of the development is now complete. Development drilling started in August 1980 and production commenced in January 1981. The short time needed to bring this field on production is a remarkable accomplishment, particularly in view of the many time consuming permits that were required for this offshore California location.

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