Cobalt International Energy Inc. said Wednesday it has made a “significant” discovery in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico (GOM) at the North Platte prospect on Garden Banks Block 959.

“Based on extensive wireline evaluation, the discovery well encountered several hundred feet of net oil pay in multiple inboard Lower Tertiary sands,” the management team said.

North Platte is in about 4,400 feet of water and was drilled to a total depth of 34,500 feet. Cobalt first attempted to drill the prospect in May 2010, and it had a rig on the North Platte well location preparing to spud when the Department of the Interior implemented the 2010 drilling moratorium, requiring Cobalt to move the rig off the well location.

Cobalt, with a 60% working interest, operates North Platte. France’s Total E&P USA Inc. holds a 40% stake.

Cobalt CEO Joseph H. Bryant said the discovery was a company milestone. The former Unocal Corp. president, with former BP plc executives, formed Cobalt in 2005 (see Daily GPI, Dec. 2, 2005). Investors in the company include First Reserve Corp., Goldman Sachs, Riverstone Holdings, Kern Partners (see Daily GPI, Dec. 3, 2007).

Total combined its GOM lease holdings with Cobalt’s in 2009 (see Daily GPI, April 7, 2009). At that time Cobalt had 122 offshore leases and Total had 80 leases, which were added to 12 exploration leases they already jointly owned.

“Cobalt’s founding vision included making significant operated discoveries in multiple world-class deepwater oil basins,” Bryant said. The latest find demonstrates that the producer has the “technical and operational skills to deliver on our promises.”

The North Platte discovery “is particularly important for Cobalt because it confirms our geologic model of the inboard Lower Tertiary Trend where Cobalt holds a substantial acreage position with several follow-on prospects,” said Chief Exploration Officer James W. Farnsworth. Based on a preliminary analysis of well and wireline data, “North Platte is in line with the predrill estimate of net pay. This success is an important reminder that the Gulf of Mexico continues to hold prolific hydrocarbon potential.”

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