big ship in Deep water

Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited (SNEPCo), which carries out Shell Companies in Nigeria’s offshore activities, is drawing on Shell’s global industry-leading deep-water expertise as well as its Nigerian engineers and technicians to deliver safe, world-class and 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 2.1 million barrels per day. The Federal Government of Nigeria via its short and medium term priorities aimed at the development of Nigeria’s oil and gas sector, termed the ‘7 Big Wins’, has set ambitious targets to increase total oil production in the next few years with a plan to significantly increasing deep-water exploration and production.


The Bonga field in block-118, which started production in 2005, is located 120 kilometres offshore in the Gulf of Guinea. It was Nigeria’s first oil and gas production project in more than 1,000 metres of water. For the project SNEPCo built one of the world’s largest floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessels. 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 receives crude and gas from production wells on the seabed and has the capacity to produce 225,000 barrels of oil and 210 million standard cubic feet of gas per day. It increased Nigeria’s oil production capacity by 10% when it began producing in 2005. By the end of 2016, Bonga had produced about 702 million barrels of oil. Bonga has operated in 2016 at more than 92% availability and was therefore a stable source of revenue for the Federal Government of Nigeria throughout 2016.

SNEPCo expanded the field 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. Bonga North West is capable of producing approximately 65,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day. Bonga Phase 3 achieved first oil in October 2015. Oil and gas are transported by an undersea pipeline to the nearby Bonga FPSO, which SNEPCo upgraded to handle the additional flow from Bonga North West wells.

Once separated from the gas, oil is sent to a single point mooring (SPM) buoy anchored nearby that is used to load oil onto tankers for export around the world. The gas is piped to the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) plant at Bonny Island, where it is cooled to make liquefied natural gas for shipping to global consumers.

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 deepwater industry.

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. The Bonga North West oil and gas field is not only unlocking new energy resources in Nigeria, it is also unlocking new skills. Today, 96% of SNEPCo’s staff is Nigerian, with significant levels of Nigerian staff trained or going on assignments overseas, further increasing local capacity for the future. SNEPCo has also provided specialised training for semi-skilled Nigerians to work in the energy industry, for example, as welders and scaffolders.

Bonga also stimulated the growth of support industries vital to deepwater projects. These benefit the wider Nigerian economy by boosting demand for a range of goods and services including offshore vessels and platforms, 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 in 2014 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 in 2010 of a local fabrication yard for subsea components, a pipe coating plant and a welding laboratory.

At the local fabrication yard five subsea trees were refurbished in Nigeria led by Nigerian engineers. A subsea tree is an arrangement of valves and other components installed at the wellhead to control and monitor production/injection flow.

Bonga also has the first, largest and most technologically advanced polyester moored deep-water buoy to be built in Nigeria. The SPM buoy that was installed at Nigerdock in Nigeria is one of the world’s largest. With the fabrication and installation of this SPM buoy, Shell demonstrated that its logistics base in Nigeria can support other deepwater developments in other regions.

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Shell has a history of nearly 60 years in Nigeria and the largest footprint of all the international oil and gas companies operating in the country.

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