Anadarko outlines drilling plans for Gulf of Mexico

Paula Dittrick
OGJ Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, June 3 -- Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and other oil companies are evaluating their drilling programs given a 6-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico following safety concerns after the runaway Macondo well and resulting oil spill.

The US government’s moratorium idles 33 drilling rigs under contract to major oil companies and independents.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar ordered a moratorium on drilling of new deepwater wells. Meanwhile, operators of permitted deepwater wells now being drilled are to halt drilling at the first safe stopping point and secure the well, he said.

Cobalt International Energy Inc. invoked a force majeure provision under its drilling contract with Diamond Offshore Co. for the Ocean Monarch drilling rig to drill an exploratory well on Garden Banks Block 959 (OGJ Online, June 2, 2010).

Anadarko said it might reallocate some of its 2010 drilling budget from the gulf to other areas although it provided no specifics. The independent invoked a force majeure clause in three deepwater rig contracts.

Based upon directives from the US Minerals Management Service, Anadarko plans to utilize its one remaining contracted rig in the gulf for completion and workover activities during the moratorium.

“We share everyone’s desire to ensure the safety of deepwater drilling activity,” said Jim Hackett, Anadarko chairman and chief executive officer. Anadarko’s sales-volumes guidance remains 230-234 million boe for the full year and 57-60 million boe for the second quarter, the company said. Capital spending for the full year still is expected at about $5.3-5.6 billion.

Anadarko ceased all gulf drilling in accordance with the US Department of the Interior’s announcement on May 27. Before that, Anadarko was conducting the following operated appraisal and completion activities:

• Lucius (Keathley Canyon Block 875)—The second of three appraisal wells encountered more than 650 net ft of oil pay in three of the primary targets. Drilling was suspended about 2,000 ft from TD with one additional target yet to test. Anadarko has 50% interest. Partners are Plains Exploration & Production, 33.33%, and Mariner Energy Inc., 16.67%.

• Callisto (Mississippi Canyon Block 875)—Anadarko completed the discovery and expects to tie the well back to the Independence Hub natural gas platform. The well is expected to begin production later this year at 40 MMcfd. Anadarko has 100% interest.

• Heidelberg (Green Canyon Block 903)—Anadarko had planned to redrill the Heidelberg appraisal well, but it had not been spudded before the initial moratorium. Anadarko moved the rig to Red Hawk for plugging and abandoning activities.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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