Noble Energy Inc. announced that a second appraisal well targeting the Gunflint prospect in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico (GOM) has successfully encountered 109 feet of net pay within the primary reservoir.

The Houston-based company said drilling, wireline logs and data from the Mississippi Canyon 992 #1 well confirm the reservoir’s primary structure contains an estimated gross resource — based on the 75th and 25th percentile probabilities — of 65 million to 90 million boe, concurring with the company’s expectations for the prospect (see Daily GPI, May 4, 2011).

“Our appraisal program at Gunflint solidifies our plans for a subsea tieback development, with sanction planned for later this year,” Susan Cunningham, Noble’s vice president for the deepwater GOM, West Africa and Frontier regions, said in a written statement.

“Along with our Big Bend discovery, we now have two major projects in the deepwater GOM targeting first production at the end of 2015. These developments represent significant value to our overall portfolio.”

The second well was drilled one mile west of the original discovery well to a total depth (TD) of approximately 32,800 feet, in water that was 6,100 deep. Noble said commercial hydrocarbons were not encountered in the deeper exploration objective, adding that additional exploration potential remains in an adjacent three-way structure due north of the well.

“Once operations are completed, the well will be suspended for future use,” the company said Friday. “The net cost of drilling the lower exploration zone was approximately $15 million, which will be expensed in the second quarter of 2013.”

Noble said it plans to move a drilling rig to Troubadour, a low-risk amplitude prospect offsetting the Big Bend discovery, over the next several weeks. The company said a well targeting the Troubadour is expected to reach TD late in 3Q2013.

Noble has a 31.14% working interest (WI) in the Gunflint and serves as the operator there. Other partners include Ecopetrol America Inc. (31.50% WI), Marathon Oil Corp. (18.23% WI) and Samson Offshore LLC (19.13% WI).

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