Two oil majors announce major U.S. GoM deepwater finds

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Shell's Whale discovery is located approximately 200-miles (322 kilometers) southwest of Houston in approximately 8,000-feet of water

FEBRUARY 1, 2018 — Oil majors Shell and Total have each announced major oil discoveries in the deepwater U.S. Gulf of Mexico.

Shell Offshore Inc. yesterday announced what it called “one of its largest U.S. Gulf of Mexico exploration finds in the past decade” from the Whale deepwater well. The well encountered more than 1,400 net feet (427 meters) of oil bearing pay. Total announced a major oil discovery in the Ballymore prospect.

Shell says that evaluation of its discovery is ongoing, and appraisal drilling is underway to further delineate the discovery and define development options.

“Deep water is an important growth priority as we reshape Shell into a world-class investment case,” said Andy Brown, Upstream Director for Royal Dutch Shell. “Today’s announcement shows how, through exploration, we are sustaining a strong pipeline of discoveries and future projects to sustain this deep-water growth.”

Whale is operated by Shell (60%) and co-owned by Chevron U.S.A. Inc. (40%). It was discovered in the Alaminos Canyon Block 772, adjacent to the Shell-operated Silvertip field and approximately 10-miles from the Shell-operated Perdido platform.

Shell currently has three Gulf of Mexico deep-water projects under construction – Appomattox, Kaikias, and Coulomb Phase 2 – as well as investment options for additional subsea tiebacks and Vito, a potential new hub in the region. The Shell group expects its global deep-water production to exceed 900,000 boe per day by 2020, from already discovered, established areas.

Drilling operations for the Whale well were completed in June 2017 to a depth of approximately 22,948-feet (measured depth).


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.

A sidetrack well is now ongoing to confirm the upside potential.

“This major discovery gives us access to large oil resources and follow on potential in the emerging Norphlet play. It also demonstrates all the interest of Total’s GoM farm-in agreement with Chevron, where we acquired a 40% interest in Ballymore. While already deemed commercially viable, we will work together on the appraisal of this discovery and a cost-effective scheme to ensure a rapid, low breakeven development”, said Arnaud Breuillac, President Exploration & Production at Total.

Located in water depth of about 2,000 meters and 120 kilometers from the Louisiana coast, the Ballymore prospect covers four blocks in the Norphlet play, including Block MC 607 where the discovery was made. Total’s acquisition of a 40% working interest in Ballymore was part of an exploration agreement with Chevron (60%, operator) signed in September 2017 that included seven prospects covering 16 blocks in the Norphlet (Eastern GoM) and the Wilcox (Central GoM) plays.

“Ballymore is the largest discovery by Total in the prolific Gulf of Mexico and bolsters our new exploration strategy put in place since 2015”, said Kevin McLachlan, Senior Vice President Exploration at Total.


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