New American deepwater record set

Australia's BHP Petroleum Ltd. has set a new record for deepwater drilling in American waters at Walker Ridge Block 425 in the Gulf of Mexico, the US Minerals Management Service reported Tuesday. The BHP well is the second deepest in the world, surpassed only by a well drilled off Brazil in 9,111 ft of water.


The Minerals Management Service (MMS) announced Tuesday that a unit of Australia's BHP Petroleum Pty. Ltd. on Oct. 22 broke a deep water drilling record in American waters when it spudded an exploratory well in 8,835 ft of water on Walker Ridge Block 425 in the Gulf of Mexico.

BHP broke a previous record set by Marathon Oil Co. in February 1999 when it drilled a well in 7,997 ft of water on Walker Ridge Block 165. The BHP well is the second deepest in the world, surpassed only by a well drilled off Brazil in 9,111 ft of water.

MMS, which defines deep water as deeper than 1,000 ft, said other current deepwater drilling activity has also reached new records. In July, a record 34 wells were being drilled in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, up from the previous high of 33 in August 1999.

That record was broken the week of Oct. 16 when 36 deepwater wells were being drilled. MMS said 35 wells were being drilled in deep water this week.

MMS also said the number of wells being drilled simultaneously in ultradeep water�which it defines as 7,000 ft or deeper�is also a record, with three wells underway.

Besides the BHP well, Shell Exploration & Production Co. is drilling a well on Alaminos Canyon Block 557 in 7,790 ft of water, and Unocal Corp. is drilling another well on Walker Ridge Block 678 in 7,044 ft of water. Texaco Inc. also is drilling on Walker Ridge Block 456 in 6,680 ft of water.

�It is exciting to see the continued focus on deepwater oil and gas activity in the Gulf of Mexico,� said MMS Director Walt Rosenbusch. �Beyond the record depths and record levels of activity, we are continuing to see new geologic plays unfold and be tested." Rosenbusch noted that the industry is drilling only the second, third, and fourth exploration wells in the Walker Ridge area.

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