McMoRan Exploration Co. and its partners Monday announced what may be one of the largest natural gas and oil discoveries in decades in the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico (GOM).

The Davy Jones discovery well on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) was drilled in South Marsh Island Block 230 in 20 feet of water to a measured depth of 28,263 feet, McMoRan officials said. The well was logged with pipe-conveyed wireline logs to 28,134 feet and found 135 net feet of gas and oil-soaked sands in four zones in the Wilcox section of the Eocene/Paleocene trend.

All of the zones were said to be “full to base,” with two of the zones containing a combined 90 net feet, said officials. The Wilcox sands logged below 27,300 feet “appear to be of exceptional quality,” and flow testing will be done to confirm the ultimate hydrocarbon flow rates from the four separate zones. McMoRan plans to drill the well to 29,000 feet to test additional objectives.

“Davy Jones log results confirm our geologic model and indicate that the previously identified sands in the Wilcox section on this large ultra-deep structure encompassing four OCS lease blocks (20,000 acres) provides significant additional development potential which, upon confirmation development drilling, could make Davy Jones one of the largest discoveries on the shelf of the Gulf of Mexico in decades,” said McMoRan Co-Chairman James R. Moffett.

The geologic results from the well “are redefining the subsurface geologic landscape below 20,000 feet on the shelf of the Gulf of Mexico,” he said. The well’s results would be incorporated into McMoRan’s models “as we continue to define the potential of this promising new exploration frontier.”

Last year New Orleans-based McMoRan and its partners said testing on the ultra-deep trend in the shallow GOM waters may have hit a “frontier” pocket of natural gas (see Daily GPI, March 25, 2009). The Ammazzo deep gas exploratory prospect is in 25 feet of water near South Marsh Island Block 256 in one of the largest undrilled deep structures below 15,000 feet on the shelf, McMoRan said.

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