Drilled in Walker Ridge block 316, the well found about 200 ft (60 m) of net oil pay with good reservoir characteristics in Paleogene sandstone. This provides an early indication of the productive reservoir interval at the well location, the company said.
The drillship Pacific Khamsin drilled the well to a TD of 33,348 ft (10,164 m). Water depth is about 1,900 m (6,234 ft).
Bjørn Inge Braathen, senior vice president of Exploration in North America, said: “We are pleased to have proved an accumulation of movable hydrocarbons in the Monument exploration well. However, determining the full potential of the discovery will require further appraisal drilling.”
The Monument exploration well is operated by Equinor (50%) with partners Progress Resources USA Ltd (30%) and Repsol E&P USA Inc. (20%).
Monument is Equinor’s first operated exploration well in the US Gulf of Mexico since 2015.
Mfon Usoro, senior research analyst at Wood Mackenzie, said: “In the current low oil price environment, Equinor’s Monument discovery is a welcome one for the partners – Repsol and Petronas subsidiary Progress Resources – and the wider US Gulf of Mexico. The discovery proves the mature region still has more life in it.”
Equinor has a strong footprint in the US Gulf of Mexico (largely in non-operated assets), but the company has indicated plans to become an operator in the region, with growth focused on Paleogene-rich resources.
Wood Mackenzie expects Monument to be one of Equinor’s first commercialized discovery. But the company could face technical challenges with the complex and often compartmentalized Paleogene reservoir. Based on the drill depth of more than 32,000 ft, the discovery could be similar to other ultra-high-pressure fields requiring 20,000 psi-rated equipment which indicates significantly higher development cost.
Exploration activity in 2020 has taken a hit as companies have quickly slashed budgets. It is likely that appraisal efforts at Monument will take a back seat until prices recover, according to Wood Mackenzie.