Chevron Corp. on Thursday gave a thumbs-up to develop the $4 billion Big Foot project in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico (GOM), two months after the company sanctioned the long-awaited Jack/St. Malo project.

The project, anticipated to be completed in 2014, would be able to produce up to 25 MMcf/d of natural gas and 75,000 b/d of oil. The Big Foot field is estimated to contain total recoverable resources of more than 200 million boe.

“Sanctioning Big Foot underscores our commitment to the Gulf of Mexico and will contribute to future U.S. energy supply,” said Chevron Vice Chairman George Kirkland. “This project is another example of Chevron’s disciplined approach to advancing our enviable queue of major capital projects.”

Big Foot, which is about 225 miles south of New Orleans in water that is 5,200-feet deep, would be Chevron’s sixth operated facility in the deepwater.

A dry tree extended tension leg platform with an on-board drilling rig would be used to develop the project.

The Big Foot announcement follows Chevron’s decision in October to sanction the nearby Jack/St. Malo development, also expected to be completed in 2014 (see NGI, Oct. 25). When the Jack/St. Malo project ramps up, it is expected to produce up to 42.5 MMcf/d of gas and 170,000 b/d of oil.

In a nod to the increased oversight that GOM producers face since the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, Chevron North America Exploration and Production Co. President Gary Luquette said Chevron has “industry-leading expertise in developing deepwater projects of this type and have repeatedly proven that we can do so safely.”

According to Chevron, Big Foot’s primary pay sands are in the Middle to Upper Miocene, from 19,000 to 24,000-feet deep (5,800 to 7,300 meters). The pay sands are below a salt canopy that is up to 15,000-feet thick (2,400 to 4,500 meters).

“Three exploration and appraisal wells with multiple sidetracks have been drilled safely and successfully in the field to define the Big Foot structure,” said Chevron.

Big Foot, which lies in the Walker Ridge area of the Lower Tertiary trend, was discovered in 2006 by Chevron and then-partner Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (see NGI, Jan. 9, 2006). Today subsidiary Chevron U.S.A. Inc. is the operator of Big Foot with a 60% stake, while Statoil ASA has a 27.5% interest and Royal Dutch Shell plc is a 12.5% partner (see NGI, Nov. 13, 2006; Sept. 25, 2006).

Last year Enbridge Inc. said it was developing an offshore natural gas system to accommodate up to 100 MMcf/d from Chevron’s then-proposed Jack, St. Malo and Big Foot developments (see NGI, Aug. 3, 2009).

In 2009 Chevron’s average net production in the GOM was 484 MMcf/d of gas, 149,000 b/d of crude oil and 14,000 b/d of natural gas liquids.

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