Walter Oil & Gas has completed the first phase of plugging a natural gas well in the Gulf of Mexico that blew out in July, according to the Interior Department‘s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). The well blowout partially destroyed a Hercules Inc. rig, but as responders were working on ways to prevent releases, the well naturally clogged with sand (see Daily GPI, July 30). All of the debris from the original well had been removed as of Friday (Sept. 6), and no gas has been detected, BSEE said. Regulators said the original well would be reentered at a later date to set deeper, permanent plugs.

An exploration project operated by Noble Energy Inc. in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico has struck 50 feet of net natural gas pay in Mississippi Canyon Block 699, a Miocene reservoir. The Troubadour discovery well in the Big Bend field is in 7,273 feet of water and was drilled to a total depth of 19,510 feet. Discovered gross resources now are estimated at 50-100 million boe. The project may be sanctioned by the end of the year with first production toward the end of 2015. Noble has a 54% stake in the block and 60% ownership of Troubadour. Other Big Bend owners areRed Willow Offshore LLC (15.4%), Houston Energy Deepwater Ventures V LLC (10.6%) and W&T Energy VI LLC (20%). The W&T unit and Deepwater Gulf Energy II LLC also have a 20% stake in Troubadour.