Ultradeep shelf well logs four apparent pays

Alan Petzet
Chief Editor-Exploration

HOUSTON, Oct. 24 -- The ultradeep Gulf of Mexico shelf well known as Blackbeard has logged four "potential hydrocarbon-bearing zones below 30,067 ft," said operator McMoRan Exploration Co., New Orleans.

Having reached 32,997 ft earlier this month, McMoRan and partners had to decide this week whether to halt drilling and attempt to test the zones encountered thus far or continue drilling to basement, expected below the permit depth of 35,000 ft, in an effort to penetrate at least another 2,000 ft of sediments.

It is too soon to tell whether the four zones, in the Miocene Rob-L formation, contain crude oil or gas-condensate, James R. Moffett, co-chairman of McMoRan said on an Oct. 20 webcast. On Oct. 23, McMoRan said, "The well will be temporarily abandoned while the necessary long lead time completion equipment is procured for this anticipated high pressure test."

Bottomhole pressure exceeds 25,000 psi, and the four zones exhibit the high resistivity seen in Rob-L elsewhere.

Moffett said, "No one ever tried to flow a well at these depths." The well is presently cased to 27,000 ft.

About 18 months after previous operators gave up on the well after drilling to just below 30,000 ft, McMoRan's group took over. It deepened the well routinely except for a 3½-week period of lost returns and ran conventional logs to the new total depth, Moffett said.

Wide area impact
The well is on the crest of a massive structure covering more than 10,000 acres, and test results have implications out to a 50-mile radius of the well, Moffett said.

"Seismic data on the prospect indicates the potential for significantly thicker sands on the flanks of the structure as confirmed in recent major deepwater discoveries," McMoRan said. "Based on information obtained to date in the South Timbalier Block 168 well, McMoRan believes additional drilling on the flanks could result in significant reserve potential."

A drillsite 2½ miles southeast of the Blackbeard well, for example, might encounter a depositional wedge in which the same formations are two to three times as thick as at the crest, Moffett said. The great thickness and large areal extent makes for large recoverables.

Moffett said this conclusion is based on McMoRan's interpretation of data made public by the partners in the K2 deepwater field 90 miles south-southeast on Green Canyon Block 562, where sands were transported from the onshore Mississippi River Delta.

Operators naturally drill the top of structures in deep water because they lack well control and historically found the greatest chance for hydrocarbons is at the crest, Moffett noted.

McMoRan's confidence in Blackbeard is further bolstered because it is exploring for the same formations as at its large Flatrock discovery in 10 ft of water on South Marsh Island Block 212 about 100 miles north-northwest of Blackbeard. The Rob-L formation encountered at 28,000-35,000 ft at Blackbeard is producing gas at 14,000-16,500 ft at Flatrock.

Flatrock discovery
Flatrock field, with five successful wells, is producing gas from Rob-L and the underlying Miocene Operc formation.

The Flatrock-6 delineation well, expected to spud in the current quarter, targets deeper Rob-L sands than those producing, Operc sands, and possibly the even deeper Miocene Upper Gyro sand section of the Flatrock/Hurricane Deep structure. It is projected to 19,700 ft and will probe the south half of Flatrock.

Successful wells can be placed on production quickly through Tiger Shoal field facilities.

McMoRan said Thursday that the Flatrock-4 well tested 109 MMcfd of gas and 2,500 b/d of condensate on a 50/65-in. choke with 8,170 psi flowing tubing pressure. The same sand is producing 100 MMcfd in the Flatrock-2 well, which went online in July.

The first three Flatrock wells are producing a combined 170 MMcfed of gas and condensate, and wireline logs indicated 100 net ft of pay in the Rob-L section of the Flatrock-5 development well. That well is drilling towards 18,400 ft to deeper Rob-L and Operc sands.

McMoran is also preparing to drill the Ammazzo prospect in South Marsh Island 251. It is 16 miles and 11 miles south-southeast of Flatrock and JB Mountain fields, respectively, and lies along the structural axis of a ridge trending from Flatrock. Objectives are the same three Miocene formations.

Deep shelf economics
Moffett pointed out that the deep shelf play is not so price sensitive as onshore shale plays, for instance, because the reserves are large, the gas is found in conventional, soft rock that requires no horizontal drilling or frac treatments, and production infrastructure is everywhere.

The South Timbalier Block 168 No. 1 well, formerly Blackbeard West, is the deepest ever drilled below the mud line in the gulf. It is in 70 ft of water 115 miles southwest of New Orleans (see map, OGJ, June 7, 2004, p. 40).

McMoRan operates the well with 32.3% working interest. Plains Exploration & Production Co. and Energy XXI USA Inc., both of Houston, have 35% and 20%, respectively.

McMoRan is one of the largest acreage holders on the gulf shelf with rights to 1.5 million gross acres including 450,000 gross acres associated with the ultradeep trend.

Contact Alan Petzet at alanp@ogjonline.com.

Related Articles

BHI: US oil rig count rises for first time in 30 weeks

07/02/2015 A sudden 12-unit jump in oil-directed rigs during the abbreviated week ended July 2 represented their first rise since Dec. 5, 2014, and helped lif...

FourPoint Energy to acquire Anadarko basin assets from Chesapeake

07/02/2015 FourPoint Energy LLC, a privately owned Denver company, plans to acquire oil and gas assets from Chesapeake Energy Corp. subsidiaries Chesapeake Ex...

Puma Energy completes purchase of Murco’s UK refinery, terminals

07/02/2015 Singapore-based Puma Energy Group Pte. has completed its purchase of UK midstream and downstream assets from Murco Petroleum Ltd., a subsidiary of ...

BP to settle federal, state Deepwater Horizon claims for $18.7 billion

07/02/2015 BP Exploration & Production Inc. has agreed in principle to settle all federal and state claims arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon inciden...

Shell Midstream Partners takes interest in Poseidon oil pipeline

07/01/2015 Shell Midstream Partners LP has completed its acquisition of 36% equity interest in Poseidon Oil Pipeline Co. LLC from Equilon Enterprises LLC, a s...

Shell makes FID on Appomattox deepwater development in Gulf of Mexico

07/01/2015 Royal Dutch Shell PLC has taken a final investment decision (FID) on the Appomattox deepwater development, authorizing construction and installatio...

BHP, Woodside move to decommission Stybarrow field

07/01/2015 BHP Billiton Ltd. and Woodside Petroleum Ltd. have started preparations for decommissioning of the Stybarrow group of oil fields in production lice...

Tullow Oil provides production update on Jubilee, other fields

07/01/2015 Tullow Oil PLC reported that gross production for the Jubilee field offshore Ghana averaged 105,000 b/d in this year’s first half, up from 102,000 ...

Statoil to suspend Scarabeo 5 drilling rig

07/01/2015 Due to overcapacity in its rig portfolio, Statoil ASA said it has decided to suspend Saipem’s Scarabeo 5 dynamically position drilling rig after it...
White Papers

2015 Global Engineering Information Management Solutions Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award

The Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global...
Sponsored by

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

Global competition and volatile markets are creating a challenging business climate for project based ...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts

On Demand

OGJ's Midyear Forecast 2015

Fri, Jul 10, 2015

This webcast is to be presented by OGJ Editor Bob Tippee and Senior Economic Editor Conglin Xu.  They will summarize the Midyear Forecast projections in key categories, note important changes from January’s forecasts, and examine reasons for the adjustments.

register:WEBCAST


Predictive Analytics in your digital oilfield - Optimize Production Yield and Reduce Operational Costs

Tue, Jul 7, 2015

Putting predictive analytics to work in your oilfield can help you anticipate failures, plan and schedule work in advance, eliminate emergency work and catastrophic failures, and at the same time you can optimize working capital and improve resource utilization.  When you apply analytic capabilities to critical production assets it is possible to reduce non-productive time and increase your yield.

Learn how IBM's analytics capabilities can be applied to critical production assets with the goal of reducing non-productive time, increasing yield and reducing operations costs.

register:WEBCAST


Cognitive Solutions for Upstream Oil and Gas

Fri, Jun 12, 2015

The oil & gas sector is under pressure on all sides. Reserves are limited and it’s becoming increasingly expensive to find and extract new resources. Margins are already being squeezed in an industry where one wrong decision can cost millions. Analyzing data used in energy exploration can save millions of dollars as we develop ways to predict where and how to extract the world’s massive energy reserves.

This session with IBM Subject Matter Experts will discuss how IBM Cognitive Solutions contribute to the oil and gas industry using predictive analytics and cognitive computing, as well as real time streaming for exploration and drilling.

register:WEBCAST


The Alternative Fuel Movement: Four Need-to-Know Excise Tax Complexities

Thu, Jun 4, 2015

Discussion on how to approach, and ultimately embrace, the alternative fuel market by pulling back the veil on excise tax complexities. Taxes may be an aggravating part of daily operations, but their accuracy is crucial in your path towards business success.

register:WEBCAST


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected