The plethora of oil and natural gas discoveries in the rich Perdido thrust belt of the deepwater Gulf of Mexico (GOM) has yielded yet another discovery for Royal Dutch Shell plc.

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Houston-based Shell Offshore Inc. made a “material discovery at the Blacktip North prospect” in U.S. waters. The well encountered about 300 feet net oil pay “at multiple levels.” An evaluation is underway to define the development options.

“The Blacktip North prospect is the latest example of discovering new resources in our advantaged corridors,” said Shell’s Paul Goodfellow, executive vice president of Deep Water. “Our strategic positions, like the Perdido Corridor, are at the heart of value creation in the Gulf of Mexico, and they represent an opportunity to use our existing infrastructure to unlock the full-value potential of our discoveries.”

The Blacktip North well, drilled to a total measured depth of 27,700 feet in Alaminos Canyon (AC) Block 336, is operated by Shell (89.49%) with co-owner Repsol E&P USA LLC owning the remaining stake.  

Blacktip North, 220 miles south-southeast of Houston, is about 4.5 miles northeast of Shell’s recently appraised Blacktip exploration well. Blacktip North is 25 miles northeast of Shell’s Leopard discovery and 30 miles northeast of the recently sanctioned Whale host. The well is also about 42 miles from the Perdido spar.

Gusher Of Prospects

Shell has been working in the Perdido thrust belt for years. In 2010, production began from the Perdido spar, which at the time was the world’s deepest offshore drilling and production facility. The spar was the first producing platform in the Lower Tertiary Trend, at the time a frontier area in the deepest waters of the GOM and the furthest from shore. 

The Perdido development initially was built in around 2,450 meters (8,000 feet) of water, roughly equivalent to six Empire State Buildings stacked on top of each other, Shell had noted at the time. 

The Blacktip, Blacktip North and the Leopard discoveries “are all opportunities to increase production in the Perdido Corridor, where Shell’s Great White, Silvertip and Tobago fields are already producing,” management said. 

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In federal GOM Lease Sale 257 held last month, the two highest bids, both by Anadarko US Offshore LLC, were for AC blocks in the Perdido. The Occidental Petroleum Corp. unit offered more than $10 million for one AC block, while for the other, the bid was for $6 million-plus.

Shell, the largest deepwater leaseholder in the U.S. offshore, now has eight deepwater production hubs in the GOM. 

The energy major, with a goal to be net-zero carbon by 2050, has launched a Powering Progress strategy to “thrive through the energy transition,” management noted. Increasing investments are planned in lower-carbon energy solutions. However, plans are to continue “to pursue the most energy-efficient and highest-return upstream investments.

“We will support this strategy through exploration by sustaining a strong pipeline of high-value, nearfield and core discoveries, complemented by highly selective frontier plays.”