Deep water

Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCo), which carries out Shell Nigeria’s offshore activities, is drawing on the Shell Group’s industry-leading deep-water expertise to deliver safe, economic projects that provide jobs and training for local people.

In the past decade, industry-wide production from deep-water fields has added more than 800,000 barrels per day to Nigeria’s total oil output, which currently stands at around 2 million barrels per day. The Nigerian government has set ambitious targets to increase total oil production in the next few years and has set its sights on significantly increasing deep-water exploration and production.


The Bonga field in block-118, which started production in 2005, was Nigeria’s first oil and gas production project in more than 1,000 metres of water. SNEPCo used one of the world’s largest floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessels for the project. Three hundred metres long and the equivalent height of a 12-storey building, the FPSO’s deck spans an area as large as three football fields.

The Bonga FPSO has the capacity to produce 200,000 barrels of oil and 150 million standard cubic feet of gas per day. It increased Nigeria’s oil production capacity by 10% when it began producing in 2005.

SNEPCo expanded the project with further drilling of wells in Bonga Phases 2 and 3 and through a subsea tie-back that unlocked the nearby Bonga North West field in August 2014, which has peak production of approximately 40,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day. Bonga Phase 3 achieved first oil in October 2015.

Global Expertise, Local Workforce

With thousands of people working on deep-water projects across the world, Shell works to ensure that the knowledge gained from one project is transferred to others. By bringing in outside experience, SNEPCo helped create the first generation of Nigerian deep-water oil and gas engineers. Today, 95% of SNEPCo’s staff is Nigerian, with significant levels of Nigeria staff trained or going on cross postings overseas, further increasing local capacity for the future.

Bonga also stimulated the growth of support industries vital to deep-water projects. These benefit the wider economy by boosting demand for a range of goods and services including boats, materials, floating hotels, helicopters and manpower, creating jobs and providing a range of training and maintenance services to the industry locally.

The Bonga North West project reinforced Shell’s commitment to developing the offshore frontier with a strong focus on safety and Nigerian content. The project was completed with over 4 million man hours of work and no time lost to injury. It was the first project to be executed under the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act and supported the establishment of a local fabrication yard for subsea components, a pipe coating plant and a welding laboratory.

The Bonga North West deep-water development was named Engineering Project of the Year 2015 at the prestigious Platts Global Energy Awards in New York. This represents an important achievement for Nigeria’s deep-water industry.

Download a PDF version of this report(PDF, 155 KB) - opens in new window

More In Briefing Notes

Potential In Deep Water

The deep waters of the Gulf of Guinea hold rich oil and gas resources. Tapping into these fields will deliver vital energy to help meet growing energy demand in Nigeria and beyond. 

Social Investment

Shell Companies in Nigeria (SCiN) work with government, communities and civil society to implement programmes that have a lasting impact on lives in the Niger Delta and beyond.