Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and its partners Thursday announced a discovery at the Lucius exploration well in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico's (GOM) Keathley Canyon, a region that has become a hotbed for explorers this year.

The well, in Block 875, encountered more than 200 feet of net pay in subsalt Pliocene and Miocene sands, Anadarko said.

"Lucius is a three-way structure against salt, and the results of the well indicate thick reservoir sands with very good porosity and permeability," said Bob Daniels, Anadarko senior vice president for worldwide exploration.

"We are continuing to gather data to evaluate the fluids from the well," he said. "These initial results are very encouraging, so we plan to immediately drill an up-dip sidetrack appraisal well to delineate the reservoir's areal extent."

The Lucius discovery was drilled to a total depth of about 20,000 feet in 7,100 feet of water, using the new ultra-deepwater Ensco 8500 semi-submersible drilling rig. The up-dip sidetrack appraisal well is to be drilled on the same block, about 3,200 feet due south of the discovery.

Daniels said the "proximity and availability" of Anadarko's Red Hawk cell spar would enhance the well's potential development options.

Anadarko operates the Lucius well with a 50% stake. Co-owners are Plains Exploration & Production Co. (33.33%) and Mariner Energy Inc. (16.67%).

The latest discovery in the deepwater GOM underscores the success by offshore producers this year -- despite the recession. Producers drilling for natural gas and oil in the deepwater GOM and offshore Brazil and West Africa comprise what has come to be known as the Golden Triangle for their potential impact to increase energy supplies.

Last month Douglas-Westwood said spending for global offshore operations and maintenance over the next five years is forecast to be more than $330 billion, with most of the money targeting North America's offshore (see NGI, Nov. 30).

Since January the GOM's deepwater has been the site for at least 12 discoveries. Two of the most promising were by BP plc and Chevron Corp., which announced some potentially big finds also in Keathley Canyon, which is in the promising Lower Tertiary Trend.

Chevron last February announced that its Buckskin No. 1 discovery well, in about 7,000 feet of water, encountered 300 feet of net pay (see NGI, Feb. 9). The well, drilled to a depth of more than 29,000 feet, is in Keathley Canyon Block 872.

In September BP's U.S. arm made a "giant" discovery in Keathley Canyon at its Tiber well after drilling one of the deepest wells ever (see NGI, Sept. 7). The Tiber well, completed in August, may be larger than the nearby Kaskida discovery, made in 2006, which contains an estimated 3 billion boe in place, BP said.

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