McMoRan deploys more rigs to ultradeep gulf

May 3, 2010
McMoRan Exploration Co., New Orleans, has moved drilling rigs onto two more Gulf of Mexico shelf wells to explore ultradeep potential beneath the listric fault or salt weld.

McMoRan Exploration Co., New Orleans, has moved drilling rigs onto two more Gulf of Mexico shelf wells to explore ultradeep potential beneath the listric fault or salt weld.

The company projects 2010 capital spending at $240 million including $40.8 million of outlays in the first quarter. Capital spending will continue to be driven by opportunities and managed based on market conditions, the company said.

McMoRan has spud a confirmation well at its Davy Jones shelf ultradeep indicated discovery, has spud the Blackbeard East ultradeep exploratory well, and expects to spud wells on its Lafitte ultradeep prospect and several other prospects in 2010.

Ultradeep shelf

McMoRan spud the Davy Jones appraisal well on South Marsh Island Block 234 about 2∏ miles southwest of the indicated discovery well that went to 29,000 ft on Block 230 and logged 200 net ft of pay in multiple Eocene and Paleocene (Wilcox) sands. The appraisal well, below 4,000 ft en route to a proposed 29,950 ft, is expected to test similar sections updip.

Meanwhile, a team of experts working with McMoRan is studying completion design for Davy Jones and various fast-track alternatives to flow test it. A flow test could be carried out within 12-18 months, the company said.

McMoran is drilling below 11,000 ft towards a projected 29,950 at Blackbeard East in 80 ft of water on South Timbalier Block 144. This well targets Middle and Deep Miocene objectives seen below 30,000 ft at Blackbeard West 9 miles west.

Lafitte, in 140 ft of water on Eugene Island Block 223, is to spud later this year and target Middle and Deep Miocene objectives.

A geophysical suspension of operations granted by the US Minerals Management Service in May 2009 allows McMoRan to evaluate whether to deepen Blackbeard West, drill an offset location, or complete the well to test the existing zones. McMoRan's investment in the Blackbeard West well totaled $31.3 million at Mar. 31.

In addition to Davy Jones and Blackbeard West, McMoRan has identified 15 ultradeep prospects in shallow water. They include the John Paul Jones prospect located north of Davy Jones to be drilled in future years.

McMoRan submitted apparent high bids on 17 of 19 blocks on the shelf which, if granted by the MMS, would add 75,000 gross acres to the company's leasehold that now approximates 1 million gross acres. That includes 150,000 gross acres associated with the ultradeep gas play.

Other deep prospects

Besides the ultradeep play, McMoRan is moving ahead with deep gas exploration above the salt weld. It plans another sidetrack at the Blueberry Hill offset appraisal well on Louisiana State Lease 340 after it failed to confirm the continuity of pay sands seen in the sidetrack No. 1, bypass, and sidetrack No. 2 wellbores drilled in 2009. The next sidetrack will be to the southwest of the pay sands seen in 2009.

The operator plans to redrill the Hurricane Deep sidetrack well on South Marsh Island Block 217, which McMoRan reported had encountered an underground flow at 18,450 ft in February. McMoRan's insurance will cover its share of costs to redrill to 18,450 ft.

McMoRan's deep gas exploratory plans for this year also include the Boudin and Platte prospects. Boudin is projected to 23,050 ft or Miocene in 20 ft of water on Eugene Island Block 26, and Platte is projected to 18,700 ft in Vermilion Parish, La.

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