McMoRan Exploration Co. Wednesday began crowing about a Lineham Creek ultra-deep exploratory well located onshore in South Louisiana in which it has a minority stake. The well is not yet at total depth, but McMoRan said estimated proved, probable and possible oil and gas reserves are 546.7 Bcfe gross.

The well is onshore in Cameron Parish. Chevron U.S.A. Inc. is operator and holds a 50% working interest. McMoRan is participating for a 36% interest. Other working interest owners include Energy XXI, 9.0%; and billionaire Tex Moncrief, 5%. Chevron had not yet confirmed the well results Wednesday.

Engineers working for McMoRan came up with the reserves estimate, of which 141.7 Bcfe is net to McMoRan, including 12.9 Bcfe of net proved reserves associated with interim results from the sands encountered above 24,000 feet.

“These are the first of what we hope will be sizeable reserves from the sub-salt, ultra deep trend onshore and in the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico,” said McMoRan CEO James Moffett. “Indications of hydrocarbons shallower than 24,000 feet have positive implications for additional targets on trend within our portfolio. We look forward to results from ongoing drilling activities on the Lineham Creek structure and from the onshore Lomond North exploratory prospect currently being drilled.”

These are the first reserves to be booked in the sub-salt, ultra-deep trend, McMoRan said. The well is currently drilling below 27,600 feet to evaluate the deeper primary objectives and has a proposed total depth of 29,000 feet. Development plans are to be determined following completion of drilling and evaluation of the deeper objectives.

The good news must be welcome to Moffett and investors in McMoRan as the company’s Davy Jones No. 1 well in the Gulf of Mexico has been an ongoing source of frustration (see Daily GPI, Dec. 31, 2012). Late last year Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. struck a $9 billion cash-and-stock deal to buy U.S. producers Plains Exploration & Production Co. and McMoRan (see Daily GPI, Dec. 6, 2012).

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