Shell Offshore Inc. has hit a significant oil and gas prospect about 250 miles south of Houston in the deepwater Alaminos Canyon of the Gulf of Mexico (GOM).

The Blacktip exploration well, a Wilcox discovery in the rich Perdido thrust belt, was unearthed in Block 380 in 6,200 feet of water. The well is about 30 miles from the Shell-operated Perdido platform and the recent Whale discovery, also in Alaminos Canyon.

The find offers the opportunity to augment existing production in the Perdido area, which extends into Mexico waters. The Royal Dutch Shell plc subsidiary’s Great White, Silvertip and Tobago fields already are producing in U.S. deepwater.

“Blacktip is Shell’s second material discovery in the Perdido Corridor and is part of a continuing exploration strategy to add competitive deepwater options to extend our heartlands,” said upstream director Andy Brown.

Drilling at the initial Blacktip well still is underway and “has to date encountered more than 400 feet net oil pay with good reservoir and fluid characteristics. The well is currently being deepened to further assess the structure’s potential.”

Blacktip is operated by Shell (52.375%) and co-owned by Chevron U.S.A. Inc. (20%), Equinor Gulf of Mexico LLC (19.125%) and Repsol E&P USA Inc. (8.5%).

The discovery “confirms the potential in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico and underpins Equinor’s strategy to exploit prolific basins and deepen in core areas,” said Equinor Senior Vice President Bjørn Inge Braathen, who oversees North American exploration. “We await further results from the well and look forward to continue the collaboration with the operator and co-venturers to assess the full potential of the discovery and evaluate options for development.”

The discovery in a “Shell heartland” adds to its Paleogene exploration success in the Perdido area, Shell executives noted. Shell has Appomattox, Kaikias and Coulomb Phase 2 underway in the deepwater GOM, as well as investment options for additional subsea tiebacks and a potential new hub, Vito.

Through exploration, Shell has added more than 1 billion boe in the last decade with the GOM. The supermajor’s global deepwater production is on track to exceed 900,000 boe/d by 2020, from already discovered, established areas.