SHELL has started oil production from the Gumusut-Kakap deepwater platform offshore Sabah, Malaysia, with work on the platform’s gas production facilities still underway.

Located about 120 kilometres offshore in waters of up to 1,200 metres depth, the platform is expected to reach an annual peak oil production of around 135,000 barrels a day, which Shell says will eventually constitute up to 25 per cent of Malaysia’s oil production.

The field’s full development system currently comprises 14 out of 19 planned subsea wells tied back to a permanent structure of a semi-submersible floating production sytem and a 200-kilometre oil export pipeline that will bring the crude to the Sabah Oil and Gas Terminal onshore at Kimanis.

Gas production at the project is expected to start in 2015.

The platform was built in Malaysia by Malaysian Marine and Heavy Engineering (MMHE), in what Shell said was the company’s largest ever structure, using 676 kilometres of stainless steel tubes.

Assembling the vast structure, whose four decks total nearly 40,000 square metres, involved the world’s heaviest onshore lift, Shell said, when the 23,000-tonne topsides were lifted onto the hull in April 2012.

Shell Upstream managing director Andrew Brown said the Gumusut-Kakap field was one of a series of deepwater startups to launch in 2014.

“Gumusut-Kakap is our first deep-water development in Malaysia, and uses the best of Shell’s global technology and capabilities in deep water,” he said.

“We are delighted to have reached this milestone with our partners.”

With oil production now under way, work on the gas injection facilities is continuing with an expected start-up during 2015.

The Gumusut-Kakap project is a joint venture between Shell (33%, operator), ConocoPhillips Sabah (33%), Petronas Carigali (20%) and Murphy Sabah Oil (14%).

ConocoPhillips executive vice president of exploration and production Matt Fox said the startup of the project was an important milestone for the company.

“It joins Siakap North-Petai as the second major Malaysian project startup in 2014 that will contribute to the company’s organic growth over the coming years,” he said.