Chevron Corp. and Anadarko Petroleum announced a new deepwater discovery at their Big Foot prospect in Walker Ridge Block 29 about 225 miles south of New Orleans. The companies expect that the oil discovery also will provide associated natural gas production but no commercial estimates have been made available yet.
Chevron is the operator and owns a 60% working interest in Big Foot. Other owners are Anadarko with 15% and Plains Exploration and Shell, each with 12.5%. The Big Foot No. 2 discovery well is located in 5,000 feet of water and was drilled to a total depth of 25,127 feet. The well encountered as much as 300 feet or more of net oil pay. Further appraisal drilling will be required to determine the commercial potential. A sidetrack well has begun drilling.
"Coming on the heels of last month's announced Knotty Head discovery, the Big Foot discovery further validates the extensive middle-to-lower Miocene play we are aggressively pursuing within the foldbelt area," said Bob Daniels, Anadarko Senior Vice President, Exploration and Production. "Including our wholly owned Genghis Khan discovery, we were successful in three out of four foldbelt exploration wells during 2005. We will remain very active in the region in 2006, including five delineation and exploration wells expected to be drilling during the first quarter. The deepwater Gulf of Mexico will be a major piece of our overall growth plan in the coming years."
Ray Wilcox, president of Chevron North American Exploration and Production, said the discovery "should ultimately provide the country with much needed crude oil and natural gas."
The Minerals Management Service (MMS) said last month that the deepwater Gulf remains a growth area for the oil and gas industry. There were nine deepwater discoveries (greater than 1,000 feet) in 2005 and more ultra deepwater drilling activity than in 2004. "The deepwater discoveries to date represent a strong continuing success story in the Gulf of Mexico," said Chris Oynes, MMS regional director for the Gulf of Mexico. "Discoveries like BP's Stones represent a continuing favorable development in the new Paleocene play in the Walker Ridge area."
The following discoveries were made in 2005:
MMS said there were nine rigs drilling in 5,000 feet of water or greater -- the ultra deepwater zone -- during the first week of December, compared to seven in the same period one year ago.
In 2005, Chevron/Unocal reached a new drilling record -- 32,968 feet of drilling depth at its Knotty Head prospect. This broke the old record set by Shell of 32,727 feet.
MMS said the announced deepwater discoveries "demonstrate that active exploration in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico will continue to help America meet her energy needs."
However, producers are still reeling from the hurricane damage and some have decided to reduce their offshore risk by scaling back future Gulf operations. For example, Pioneer Natural Resources said last fall that it would completely exit the deepwater Gulf.
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