Anadarko Repairs Leak, Ramps Up NatGas Project

Anadarko Petroleum said natural gas production from a deep-water Gulf of Mexico project has been ramped up to a gross rate of about 900 million cubic feet (25.49 million cubic meters) a day — roughly 2 percent of U.S. natural gas output.

Production at Independence Hub, the world's deepest production platform operating in 8,000 feet (2,438.4 meters) of water, began last July but was halted April 8 because of a subsea pipeline leak. Limited production started earlier this month after Enterprise Products Partners LP, which owns the pipeline, fixed the leak.

"The repairs to the Independence Trail export pipeline system and subsequent testing were successful," said Jim Hackett, Anadarko's chairman and chief executive. "As a result, we've been able to return production to pre-shut-in levels."

The massive platform, which has living quarters for 16 people, is located about 120 miles (193.11 kilometers) southeast of Biloxi, Mississippi. Its mooring lines are nearly 2 1/2 miles (3.22 kilometers) long.

Despite the increased volume, natural gas futures for July rose 29 cents to $12.915 per 1,000 cubic feet (28.32 cubic meters) in trading Monday on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The Woodlands, Texas-based Anadarko, one of the nation's largest independent exploration and production companies, operates the semi-submersible platform and has reserved 61 percent of its capacity.

Despite the two-month shut-in at Independence Hub, Anadarko said Monday it still expects full-year 2008 production to be within a previously announced range of 207 million to 212 million barrels of oil equivalent.

Its shares rose $1.40, or about 1.8 percent, to $78.73 in early afternoon trading Monday. They've traded in a range of $45.47 to $81.36 in the past year.

Enterprise Products Partners is an 80 percent owner of the platform, while Helix Energy Solutions Group Inc. owns the other 20 percent.

The remainder of Hub's capacity is controlled by Italy's Eni SpA, Norway's StatoilHydro ASA and Devon Energy Corp.

Deepwater drilling in the Gulf dates to 1979 when Shell Oil Co. began production, but development really didn't take off until the 1990s as technological advancements made it more feasible. Today most continental U.S. oil and gas production comes from the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, according to the U.S. Energy Department.