Shell has started production from its Stones development in the US Gulf of Mexico, the deepest offshore oil and gas project.

Once ramped-up completely at the end of next year, the project is expected to produce around 50,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day (boe/d).

A floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel is the thirteenth FPSO in the company’s global deepwater portfolio, and is serving as host facility for the project.

The vessel has been designed to operate safely during storms and operates through subsea infrastructure beneath 9,500ft of water.

"Using such technologies in innovative ways will help us unlock more deepwater resources around the world."

During a severe storm or hurricane, the FPSO can disconnect and sail away from the field and return to resume production once the weather has passed. 

Shell upstream director Andy Brown said: “Stones is the latest example of our leadership, capability, and knowledge, which are key to profitably developing our global deepwater resources.

“Our growing expertise in using such technologies in innovative ways will help us unlock more deepwater resources around the world.”

The deepwater Stones project is 100%-owned and operated by Shell. It is the company’s second producing field from the Lower Tertiary geologic frontier in the Gulf of Mexico and features a well design that requires fewer materials and lowers installation costs.

Once complete, the project is expected to deliver up to $1bn reduction in well costs.

Shell’s global deepwater business currently produces 600,000boe/d.

The Stones development will start with two subsea production wells tied back to the FPSO vessel, followed later by six additional production wells.