One-third of the 15 natural gas subsea wells served by the new Independence Hub platform in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico (GOM) are flowing at a rate of 210-250 MMcf/d, and in the coming months output from more wells secured to the hub will combine to achieve a 1 Bcf/d capacity goal by the end of the year, a trio of energy executives said last week.

Three of the CEOs whose companies are involved in the hub spoke at the Lehman Brothers CEO Energy/Power Conference in New York City in separate presentations.

Anadarko Petroleum Corp. CEO Jim Hackett, whose company acts as the hub's operator, assured attendees that the 1 Bcf/d projection will be reached in 4Q2007. He reminded attendees that the project, which ramped up in late July, has been completed on time and on budget (see NGI, July 23).

Four wells were flowing to the hub at the end of August and another well has ramped up in recent days. The hub, centered on the Merganser prospect in the Mississippi Canyon, serves 10 anchor fields.

"To think that you could bring on a $2 billion project on budget and on time during the cycle we've been through in the industry is absolutely unheard of," Hackett told attendees. Anadarko holds 61% of the hub's capacity.

Michael Creel, CEO of Enterprise Products Partners LP, said he hoped Anadarko's projected forecast is correct. Enterprise is 80% co-owner of the hub; Helix Energy Solutions Group Inc. is 20% co-owner. Enterprise also owns 100% interest in the Independence Trail, the gas export pipeline from the hub, which flows to a shallow-water platform in West Delta 68 and interconnects with Tennessee Gas Pipeline.

"We'll see a couple more wells come on line in a couple more months," said Creel. "Anadarko expects to have 1 Bcf/d in the fourth quarter, and we hope they are right. We are looking forward to the cash flow."

Devon Energy Corp. CEO Larry Nichols, whose company holds 6.5% of the hub's capacity, said the company's current gas production is about 50 MMcf/d net. That output will grow through the rest of 2007 and into the coming year, Nichols said. And he added that the hub's success bodes well for other deepwater projects on Devon's drawing board.

Devon has stakes in 49 prospects in the GOM that hold an estimated 3-4 billion boe. Many of them are in the Walker Ridge area of the Lower Tertiary.

"We've got one of the largest exploration inventories in the deepwater," but most of the initial deepwater data remains confidential until more appraisal work is done, said Nichols. Included is the Cascade prospect, which Nichols said has been approved and sanctioned by the Minerals Management Service and is now is ready for development.

A third appraisal well on the Jack prospect in the Lower Tertiary is scheduled for late this year, he said. Devon, which holds a 25% stake in the project, worked with partners Chevron Corp. and Statoil ASA last year on the deepest extended drill stem test in history (see NGI, Sept. 11, 2006). A third St. Malo appraisal well, also in deepwater, will be drilled "near" the end of the year, and "additional appraisal activity is under way" on its Kaskida prospect.

Still to come are several promising undrilled prospects in the deepwater, said Nichols. However, a decision on whether to move forward with development on those prospects is still several years away.

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