McMoRan reenters Blackbeard gas prospect in gulf

Feb. 22, 2008
McMoRan Oil & Gas has entered into a multiwell drilling contract with Rowan Cos. that includes its reentering the Blackbeard gas prospect in the ultradeepwater Gulf of Mexico.

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Feb. 22 -- McMoRan Oil & Gas Corp. LLC, New Orleans, has entered into a multiwell drilling contract with Rowan Cos. Inc. that includes its reentering the ultradeep Blackbeard gas prospect on the Gulf of Mexico shelf. The Rowan Gorilla IV jack up will reenter and deepen Blackbeard No. 1 ultradeep exploratory well, already one of the deepest wells in the Gulf of Mexico. It lies in 70 ft of water on South Timbalier Block 168.

ExxonMobil Corp. initially drilled Blackbeard No. 1 to 30,067 ft in August 2006, using Rowan's Tarzan-class Scooter Yeargain jack up, but temporarily abandoned it prior to reaching its 32,000 ft primary target because of higher-than-expected pressure. The well had encountered a thin gas-bearing sand below 30,000 ft.

Gorilla IV, committed for at least 90 days at a day rate in the mid-$190,000s, is already on location, and drilling operations are expected to begin in the coming weeks, McMoRan reported.

McMoRan acquired the rights to the project from Newfield Exploration Co. in an August 2007 acquisition of Gulf of Mexico shelf oil and gas properties for $1.08 billion in cash and certain exploration rights. McMoRan will now operate the well and holds a 26.8% working interest in the Blackbeard prospect, which is part of the Treasure Island ultradeep play.

"Other partnership arrangements will be disclosed after plans are finalized," a McMoRan spokesman told OGJ.

McMoRan owns 450,000 gross acres associated with the ultradeep play in the Gulf of Mexico.