Hibernia, Canada

Hibernia is located in the Jeanne d'Arc Basin, 315km east of St John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, in a water depth of 80m. The field consists principally of two early Cretaceous reservoirs - Hibernia and Avalon - located at average depths of 3,700m and 2,400m, respectively.

Hibernia oil is a light sweet crude, with a density of 32-34° API and a sulphur content, by weight, of 0.4-0.6%. The field contains approximately three billion barrels of oil in-place, and recoverable reserves are estimated to be at around 1,200 million barrels.

The Hibernia field was first discovered in 1979. Development began in 1986 and construction began in 1991.

The field started production in November 1997 and by 2009 its total crude oil production was 126,000 barrels per day. The field produced 667 million barrels of crude by the end of 2009.

The Hibernia field is operated by ExxonMobil and owned by Norsk Hydro (5%), Murphy Oil (6.5%), Canada Hibernia Holding Corporation (8.5%), Suncor (20%), Chevron Canada Resources (26.875%) and ExxonMobil Canada subsidiary (33.125%).

"The Hibernia field is operated by ExxonMobil."

In February 2010 an agreement was signed by the developers with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador for the Hibernia Southern Extension project. The agreement gives a 10% stake to the Canadian Government through its Nalcor Energy.

The project is estimated to have 230 million barrels of oil and is expected to generate about $10bn revenue for the government.

Development of Hibernia

It was decided that the Hibernia field would be developed using a special gravity-base structure strong enough to withstand a collision with a one-million-ton iceberg (expected to occur once every 500 years) and a direct hit from a six-million-ton iceberg (expected just once every 10,000 years).

About 50 development wells were successfully drilled in Hibernia by January 2007. By that time the total investment in the development was $5.8bn.

The field partners are planning to invest $1.74bn in the development of the Hibernia Southern Extension project. The field will be tied-back to the Hibernia field with the installation of new infrastructure.

Production wells will be drilled from the existing platform and injection wells will be drilled using a mobile offshore drilling unit.

Gravity base structure

In September 1990 HMDC awarded the gravity base structure (GBS) contract design to Newfoundland Offshore Development Constructors (Nodeco). The detailed design was subcontracted to Doris Development Canada (DDC).

Hibernia's novel 450,000t gravity base structure design consists of a 105.5m concrete caisson, constructed using high-strength concrete reinforced with steel rods and pre-stressed tendons. The caisson is surrounded by an icewall, which consists of 16 concrete teeth.

Structurally, the 1.4m-thick icewall is supported by a system of X and V walls, which transmit the loads to the interior tiewall. The X and V walls have a thickness varying from 0.7m to 0.9m and the tiewall has a thickness of 0.9m. Put together, these walls form the icebelt. The caisson is closed at the bottom and top by horizontal slabs and the base slab has a diameter of 108m. The upper top-surface slab is about 5m above sea level.

"The field consists principally of two early Cretaceous reservoirs."

Inside the gravity structure are storage tanks for 1.3 million barrels of crude oil. Four shafts run through the GBS from the base slab to support the topsides facilities: the utility shaft, riser shaft and two drill shafts. Each shaft is 17m in diameter and extends to a total height of 111m.

The utility shaft houses the mechanical outfitting required to operate the GBS system. It includes pipework, heating and air-conditioning and electrical controls.

The two drill shafts each house 32 drill slots to accommodate the wells, which will reach depths of more than 3,700m below sea level, down into the oil reservoirs.


The topsides have a design capacity of 23,900m³ per day (150,000bpd), based on the 98 million cubic metres (615 million barrels) estimate. The topside facilities consist of five super-modules (processing, wellhead, mud, utilities, and accommodation for 185 people) as well as seven topside mounted structures (helideck, flareboom, piperack, main and auxiliary lifeboat stations and two drilling modules).

The wellhead module for Hibernia was fabricated at Bull Arm, while the remaining components were made in construction sites located around the world - two in Italy and the remaining two in South Korea. Four of the topside mounted structures (flareboom, helideck, main and auxiliary lifeboat stations) were also fabricated at Bull Arm.

The other three topside mounted structures (components of the two drilling rigs and the piperack) were fabricated in Newfoundland and New Brunswick, with some of the components being built in Alberta.


The 37,000t integrated topsides facility was transported by barges to the Hibernia deepwater site and positioned above the partially submerged GBS shafts to form the completed 600,000t production platform. This was then towed to its final site and 450,000t of solid ballast was added to secure it in place.

Offshore loading system

"The wellhead module for Hibernia was fabricated at Bull Arm."

Oil stored in the GBS is exported by means of an offshore loading system (OLS) consisting of subsea pipelines, a subsurface buoy and flexible loading hoses, feeding a purpose-built shuttle tanker.

The other infrastructure supporting the field production include platform support facilities, shorebase facility, Asco Warehouse Complex warehouse facility, transshipment terminal and a remotely operated vehicle.

Contracts for Hibernia

In April 2011, FMC Technologies was awarded the contract to supply subsea equipment for the Hibernia Southern Extension project. Deliveries are scheduled to commence in the third quarter of 2013.

in May 2011, Technip won the contract to design, manufacture and install a flexible flowline and steel tub umbilical for the Hibernia Southern Extension project.