Shell Makes Big Deepwater Oil Discovery in Gulf of Mexico

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The Whale discovery "shows how, through exploration, we are sustaining a strong pipeline of discoveries and future projects to sustain this deepwater growth".

Oil major Royal Dutch Shell said its U.S. unit had made one of its biggest oil discoveries in the past decade in the Whale deepwater well in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.

Total says its Ballymore prospect is located deep offshore in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico (Eastern GoM) and that the well was drilled to a final depth of 8,898 meters and encountered 205 meters of net oil pay in a high quality Norphlet reservoir.

While Total took an active role in the exploration effort, the French company's TOTAL E&P USA Inc. subsidiary holds a minority ownership position in the joint venture and Chevron's subsidiary Chevron U.S.A. Inc. serves as the operator of the project and holds a 60% majority stake.

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Shell's Perdido spar platform is just 10 miles to the southwest of the site, and its Silvertip field is directly adjacent - factors that could make it more economical to develop.

Shell now has three deepwater Gulf projects under construction - Appomattox, Kaikias, and Coulomb Phase 2 - as well as investment options for Vito, a potential new hub in the region. Ballymore is in water 6,536 feet deep about three miles from Chevron's Blind Faith platform. The companies are now drilling additional sidetrack wells to assess the oil reservoir more accurately, but initial estimates indicate nearly 700 feet of net oil depth.

Shell expects its global deepwater production to surpass 900,000 barrels of oil-equivalent per day (BOE/d) by 2020. " particularly special in that it offers a combination of materiality, scope and proximity to existing infrastructure", said Marc Gerrits, executive V.P. of exploration for Royal Dutch Shell. Total announced a major oil discovery in the Ballymore prospect.

An assessment of the resource estimate was ongoing, the company said, adding that the discovery will bolster Total's new exploration strategy put in place since 2015. The Samson deal also included a 12.5% interest in the GC block 761, where Total already had a one-quarter interest.