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Herschel heralds a new dawn

Release date:
22 February 2022
Fast and efficient. Herschel is the first of four major projects coming online this year and shows our resilient hydrocarbons strategy in action
🕒 3 min read | 📰 News| 💡 Why it matters

Thanks to the energy and persistence of the team, the first phase of the new Herschel project is up and running nearly five months ahead of schedule.

Herschel Expansion in the US Gulf of Mexico is first of four new oil and gas major projects expected to start up this year and will serve as a blueprint to others.

Herschel is a three-well development that is ‘tied’ to the Na Kika platform in the Gulf of Mexico. Like other recent start-ups in the region, Herschel is connected to existing infrastructure to produce some of bp’s most efficient barrels worldwide and aligned with the resilient hydrocarbons arm of our strategy. 


Adding barrels

It’s a shining example of the sort of fast payback, high-return tie-back opportunity that can deliver new energy in a shorter time frame. 

At its peak, the first well is expected to increase Na Kika’s gross production by an estimated 10,600 barrels of oil equivalent a day. 

Herschel Expansion is an important component of Na Kika’s future, explains German Molina, Na Kika area development manager: “Delivery of the project is critical to enable our long-term ambition at Na Kika. We expect to drill two more wells at Herschel in the coming years and have further options for additional development wells thereafter. This activity provides for an exciting future for Na Kika.”  


Key to the project’s success was maximizing use of existing facilities and working closely with other ongoing projects to expedite delivery and minimize costs, explains Na Kika projects squad leader Arnold Eben: “The team left no stone unturned in the bid to make the Herschel project the best it could be. Herschel Expansion project is clearly the example to follow as we progress the various projects within the Na Kika Area Development Plan (ADP).”

Subsea umbilical installation on Subsea 7’s Seven Arctic vessel

The Umbilical Termination Assembly – the first piece of the umbilical to be installed

Project in progress

Dedication and intricate planning from the team helped to get all the right kit in place.


The suction pile forms the foundation and is suctioned into place by remotely operated vehicles.

The 15-metre-tall suction pile is lowered into the sea. Only the yellow part sits above the seabed

The subsea manifold is a network of piping which allows multiple wells to be commingled into the flowline

Early adopter

Originally, Herschel was scheduled to begin production by late-June this year – but the early start-up underscores the team’s strong focus on delivery, despite multiple constraints and challenges. 

“In planning the project, we saw an opportunity to maximize value by delivering start- up earlier than planned, fitting within the overall plans at Na Kika,” says Herschel project lead Matt Green. 

Pulling ahead of schedule, where it was safe to do so, made clear sense and a major effort got under way in the middle of 2021.

One of the solutions to hitting that target was to make sure all the equipment was ready for the early offshore installation campaign and coordinating with the bp Argos project team to break into their installation campaign, says Matt. One of his proudest moments, he says, was during a week in early-December, when he watched the subsea umbilical and subsea manifold – delivered months ahead of schedule – leave the shore for offshore installation. 

💡 Why it matters

Resilient hydrocarbons will play a key role in fulfilling our strategy as we transition from an international oil company to an integrated energy company. bp expects to sustain our earnings from the hydrocarbons business out to 2030, despite focusing its oil and gas production. One way to do this is by making the most of our existing assets through tie-backs such as Herschel. These projects allow us to access and deliver new barrels at low cost and in rapid time. 

By maximizing utilization of existing facilities, we can lower the carbon intensity of the barrels produced. This supports Aim 1, which encompasses our Scope 1 and 2 emissions for our operations. We’re accelerating our 2030 aims from 30-35% to 50%. 

The steel flying lead connects the umbilical to the wellhead to provide hydraulic fluid and five different chemicals

Installation of the subsea jumpers, thick-walled steel pipe that allows the oil to flow from structure to structure subsea

An installed subsea manifold with jumpers connected

Safety first

Safety was the top priority throughout the entire project. Despite 300,000 working hours, no safety incidents were recorded.

Sitting at the heart of this is the Na Kika platform, which first came online almost 20 years ago. With the arrival of the Herschel Expansion production, the asset will be close to getting back to its capacity. 

“The fields have been naturally declining over the years, And yet, we’re now taking the asset back through a journey of discovery, adding new developments and bringing those online,” says Arnold.


Three more major projects are expected this year, in India, Trinidad and another in the Gulf of Mexico.

Find out more about the project from those on the front line

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