Dauphin Island Natural Gas Project
- R.P. Layfield (Arco Oil and Gas Co.) | K.L. Elser (Arco Oil and Gas Co.) | R.H. Ostler (Arco Oil and Gas Co.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- January 1994
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 63 - 66
- 1994. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 4.5.2 Platform Design, 4.6 Natural Gas, 1.6.6 Directional Drilling, 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 6.1 HSSE & Social Responsibility Management
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Arco Oil and Gas Co. installed the Dauphin Island production facility in a fragile Alabama marine environment supporting important fisheries and tourist facilities. We used proactive communication with governmental agencies, area industry, and the public; innovative construction technologies; and unique platform design to minimize the environmental and aesthetic impacts and to develop an economically successful gas field. The innovative equipment used in the offshore pipeline installation is a model approach for solving certain turbidity problems. The project has received numerous environmental awards.
The Mobile Bay area of Alabama is a popular recreational region, containing many sport and commercial fisheries. In 1969, the first oil and gas leases were acquired in Mobile Bay. Within 1 year, applications for the proposed drilling activities were submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for approval. The first permit was approved 9 years later. The first well, drilled in 1978, led to the discovery of the Mary Ann field. Production of the deep, sour Norphlet gas was brought on line in 1988, 19 years after the original leases were purchased.
Also in 1988, Arco purchased its first leases in the Mississippi Sound just west of the Mary Ann field (see Fig. 1). That purchase was the beginning of the Dauphin Island Natural Gas Project. After successfully drilling three wells in 1990 and identifying the commercial potential, Arco wanted to secure prompt approval of its development plans. The project resulted in the development of shallow Miocene gas in two fields (North and Northwest Dauphin Island) located about 2,000 ft below the Mississippi Sound.
Concerns About the Development
The economic viability of the project hinged on obtaining timely permits to construct an offshore platform within sight of Dauphin Island and a 15-mile pipeline to transport the produced gas from the platform to its onshore sales point through a different pipe line corridor than used for previous Mobile Bay developments. Some regulatory representatives indicated that all offshore oil and gas developments in the area may be re quired to use an existing, single pipeline corridor several miles east of the development to minimize disruption to wetlands. Also, numerous regulatory and public concerns were stressed during other companies' construction activities that had heightened sensitivity to further developments. The greatest issues were the significant silt disturbances (potentially affecting oyster beds) and possible harm to onshore wetlands during pipe line construction. In addition, concern for area archaeological resources existed because of recent damage during similar types of pipeline construction by other companies. Finally, Alabama regulations required zero discharge in state waters during platform operations and all construction activities.
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