Production has ramped up under budget and ahead of schedule at the ultra-deepwater Julia field in the Gulf of Mexico, with a second well scheduled to begin producing in the coming weeks, ExxonMobil Corp. said Tuesday.

The Julia field in Walker Ridge (WR), about 265 miles southwest of New Orleans in water depths of more than 7,000 feet, holds an estimated 6 billion boe of resources. The field comprises five leases in WR blocks 584, 627, 628 540 and 583.

For initial development, equal partners ExxonMobil and Statoil Gulf of Mexico LLC used subsea tiebacks that rely on the Chevron Corp.-operated Jack/St. Malo production facility, which is about 15 miles away (see Daily GPIDec. 3, 2014).

The tiebacks reduce the need for additional infrastructure, thereby reducing capital outlay. Technology also has played a key role in the Julia development, with subsea pumps "that have one of the deepest applications and highest design pressures in the industry to date," management said.

"Successful deepwater developments like Julia, located more than 30,000 feet below the ocean's surface, benefit from ExxonMobil's disciplined project execution capabilities and commitment to developing quality resources using advanced technology," said ExxonMobil Development Co. President Neil W. Duffin.

The Maersk Viking drillship now is drilling a third well, which is expected to come online in early 2017. Production results would determine whether additional wells should be included in the initial development phase, which has a design capacity of 34,000 b/d of oil. Julia had been projected to produce 34,000 b/d from six wells using the Jack/St. Malo facility.

"This initial production will provide ExxonMobil with insight into the potential future development of the reservoir," Duffin said.

Discovered in 2007, Julia was launched in 2013 and originally was estimated to cost $4 billion (see Daily GPIMay 9, 2013Jan. 10, 2012).

Over the past decade, ExxonMobil noted it has drilled 187 deepwater wells worldwide in water ranging from 2,100 feet to 8,700 feet. The Irving, TX-based supermajor is on track to start up 10 upstream projects between now and 2017, which would add around 450,000 boe/d of working interest production capacity.