A rich pocket of natural gas in the shallow waters off the coast of Mississippi is paying off handsomely for Chevron U.S.A. Production Co., which reports that production has more than tripled this year in its Viosca Knoll Carbonate Trend to 230 MMcf/d, up from 60 MMcf/d in 1999.

The trend, discovered with a wildcat well in 1994 by Chevron and partner Samedan Oil Corp., a subsidiary of Noble Affiliates Inc., began production in April 1998 (see NGI, April 27, 1998). The area now is considered one of the most promising natural gas growth areas, not just for San Francisco-based Chevron and Noble, but for other energy companies as well. It holds an estimated 1 Tcf of gross reserves.

The company’s GOM Shelf Business Unit, headquartered in New Orleans, said a peak production rate of 239 MMcf/d for the trend was achieved after the fifth and sixth fields in the trend. Viosca Knoll 251 and 252, began producing a combined 106 MMcf/d in November.

“Achieving this production record is a significant milestone in the development of this new trend,” said Chevron U.S.A. Production President George Kirkland. He said the company was “excited” about the trend’s potential and already is planning more development opportunities there in the next two years.

Located about 30 miles off the coast of Alabama and Mississippi, the Carbonate Trend has yielded six additional new discoveries at Mobile 991 and at Viosca Knoll blocks 68, 114, 251, 384 and 385. The water depths are about 120 feet.

The Mobile 991 and Viosca Knoll 68 fields, which first began production in 1998, and the Viosca Knoll 114 field, which began production in 1999, flow approximately 110 MMcf/d to Mobile 990 for processing before they are exported through the Chandeleur Pipeline.

Chevron also has partnered with El Paso Production Co. on two leases in the Viosca Knoll, 384 and 385. Chevron, which holds a 40% working interest and the El Paso Energy Corp. subsidiary, which holds 60%, began production on 385 in June.

In 1999, Chevron’s efforts in the Viosca Knoll resulted in two discoveries, and total production was estimated then to be 80 MMcf/d from four wells. In the last three years, Chevron’s drilling results in the trend have included six wildcat discoveries and two successful delineation wells.

Carolyn Davis, Houston

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