As recently as a year ago, it was unclear whether any of of the ultra-high-temperature, high-pressure projects long contemplated for some of the most complex reservoirs of the deep-water US Gulf of Mexico would ever come to fruition.

Majors and independents alike had put those development plans on hold amid the oil price downturn.

But 2019 finally emerged as a breakout year for one key project in the drive to handle pressures up to 20,000 pounds per square inch — Chevron's Anchor scheme in the Green Canyon area.

Earlier this year, the US supermajor selected key contractors for subsea equipment and is now angling for a final investment decision, potentially before the end of the year.

Now, Llog Exploration would appear to be joining the 20k push, announcing this week it has ordered ultra-high-temperature, high-pressure trees from TechnipFMC for the long-delayed Shenandoah project in the Walker Ridge area.

The US independent will seek to apply its no-frills, low-cost and standardised development strategy to another challenging Lower Tertiary project after recently bringing on production at the Buckskin tie-back to the Lucius spar in Keathley Canyon this year.

It always takes an extra bit of courage to be among the first, but the early movers can smooth the way and competition can breed innovation.

The hope is that movement on these early projects can help unlock other similar developments that have been languishing in the pipeline for years, such as North Platte, now operated by Total, and Tigris, operated by BP.