StatoilHydro has added to its sizable stake in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM), announcing Tuesday that it has acquired a 40% interest from BHP Billiton Ltd. in 50 offshore blocks. Financial details were not disclosed.

The offshore acreage acquired by Norwegian-based Statoil is located in the northeastern corner of the deepwater GOM in the under-explored DeSoto Canyon. DeSoto Canyon is located east of the Independence Hub, which serves several natural gas producers in the region, including Statoil (see Daily GPI, Dec. 19, 2006).

“The DeSoto Canyon is a mostly unexplored region in the eastern part of the GOM,” said Statoil’s Tony Dore, vice president of exploration for North America. Obtaining early access to new plays is regarded by the company as key to our success.”

Statoil “did a similar early access deal with ExxonMobil in 2005 in the Walker Ridge Area of Central GOM,” Dore noted. “We believe that through a close cooperation with BHP Billiton we can mature high quality prospects.”

BHP Billiton is headquartered in Australia; its U.S. operations are based in Houston. Last month BHP announced that gas and oil production had begun from the deepwater Shenzi development, which is located in four deepwater blocks of the Green Canyon. The tension leg platform, in which BHP holds a 44% stake, has a nominal capacity of 50 MMcf/d and 100,000 b/d.

BHP also is a 44% stakeholder in the deepwater Atlantis development, with capacity of 180 MMcf/d and 200,000 b/d. Neptune, its first operated, stand-alone deepwater development, is able to produce up to 50 MMcf/d and 50,000 b/d (see Daily GPI, July 8, 2008). In addition, BHP also has equity in the deepwater Genghis Khan offshore field (see Daily GPI, Nov. 14, 2006).

Statoil, among other things, owns a quarter stake in Walker Ridge Block 758, located in the promising Lower Tertiary of the deepwater GOM. In 2006 Statoil, Chevron Corp. and Devon Energy Corp. completed the deepest extended drill stem test in history at the prospect on Jack No. 2 well (see Daily GPI, Sept. 6, 2006). More well tests are under way.

In last month’s Central GOM Lease Sale 208, Statoil Gulf of Mexico LLC was high bidder at $14.29 million for Keathley Canyon Block 698, which is located in water depths more than 2,000 feet (see Daily GPI, March 19).

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