Extraction company BHP has contracted three engineering firms to study the viability of a semi-submersible floating production unit (FPU).

The Australian company selected SBM, Genesis North America, and Mcdermott for the study. The companies will supply a pre-front-end engineering and design (Pre-FEED) study for the FPU.

The proposed unit would deploy in the Trion field, in the Gulf of Mexico. Covering an area of 1,285km2, the field is in the Perdido belt, with water depths of about 2,570m.

BHP operates the Trion project and owns a 60% interest there. Mexican state-owned Pemex owns the remaining 40%.

In a statment, the company said the contractual work would be completed within a period of six months.

BHP Operations Petroleum president Geraldine Slattery said: “This is another step forward for the Trion project which allows for early engagement with the chosen contractors to optimise the design together with the contracting and execution strategy options for the FPU delivery.

“We look forward to working with the selected contractors through this study phase.”

Previously, the company selected engineering and project management firm Doris to provide engineering services for the subsea umbilicals, risers and flowlines (SURF), and the export pipeline.

In February last year, BHP secured $256m to drill an additional appraisal well (3DEL) in the Trion field.

In March 2017, BHP signed a contract with PEMEX to complete Trion discovery development.