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Producer Quartet Makes Deep-Water Discovery

Producer Quartet Makes Deep-Water Discovery

Pioneer Natural Resources Co. of Dallas, Mariner Energy of Houston, CNG Producing of New Orleans and Westport Oil and Gas participated in a deep-water Gulf of Mexico discovery on the Devil's Tower Prospect in Mississippi Canyon 773, about 140 miles southeast of New Orleans in 5,610 feet of water. A Pioneer spokesperson said the partners agreed to not disclose the type of hydrocarbons discovered.

Appraisal drilling is expected to begin in the second quarter. Pioneer has a 15.8% working interest in the discovery. Mariner, the operator, holds a 50% interest with other partners CNG (30%) and Westport (4.17%).

Devil's Tower is Pioneer's second successful exploration well drilled in the last year in the deep-water Gulf. In early 1999, Pioneer participated in the Aconcagua discovery in Mississippi Canyon 305. The appraisal well for the Aconcagua discovery is expected to spud within the next week. The partners in this discovery, Elf Exploration Inc. (Operator with 50%), Pioneer (25%) and Mariner (25%) expect to sanction the development project in June of this year.

Aconcagua is one of three deep-water gas fields included in the recently announced Canyon Express joint development project. The other fields are Marathon Oil's Camden Hills in Mississippi Canyon 348 and BP Amoco's Kings Peak in Mississippi Canyon 217. Anticipated production of 500 MMcf/d of gas will flow to the Elf-operated Virgo platform in Viosca Knoll 823. First production is anticipated in early 2002.

The Devils Tower discovery gives Mariner seven exploratory successes out of thirteen wells drilled in the Deepwater Gulf since becoming an independent company in mid-1996. Devil's Tower is the fifth successful deep-water project for CNG, one of the top six producers in the deep-water Gulf. It is preceded by two successful deep-water Gulf producing projects --- Popeye in Green Canyon Block 116 and Neptune in Viosca Knoll Block 826, along with two deep-water development projects --- North Marlin in Viosca Knoll Block 827 and Einset in Viosca Knoll Block 872-873.

Joe Fisher, Houston

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