GULF OF MEXICO

Platform, production facilities, and pipeline contracts for Reading & Bates Boomvang deepwater development off Texas are being evaluated and development drilling is scheduled to begin in the second quarter, with first production expected in the first quarter of 2002.

First Boomvang output set for 2002

Platform, production facilities, and pipeline contracts for Reading & Bates Boomvang deepwater development off Texas are being evaluated and development drilling is scheduled to begin in the second quarter, with first production expected in the first quarter of 2002. The company agrees with reserve estimates of 70-100 million boe in several oil reservoirs extending across portions of East Breaks 642, 643, 688, and 732. R&B Development owns a 50% working interest in the Boomvang Project; operator Kerr-McGee Oil & Gas owns 30%; Ocean Energy owns 20%.

Equitable sheds Gulf assets

Denver-based Westport Oil and Gas agreed to acquire the Gulf of Mexico exploration and production unit of Equitable Resources, Equitable Resources says. As part of the transaction, Equitable will receive about $50 million in cash and a large minority interest in Westport. Westport will then have about 430 bcf proved reserves and 68 bcf annual production with a combined reserve life of 7.2 years equally balanced between oil and gas.

Mariner expecting higher production

Mariner Energy projects that its 2000 production will increase over 1999 levels with several deepwater Gulf of Mexico projects. Production during 1999 increased to 24.9 bcfe from 24.2 bcfe in 1998. Mariner expects three projects to bring 2000 production up: Pluto on Mississippi Canyon 674 (37% interest), Apia on Garden Banks 73 (100% interest), and Black Widow on Ewing Banks 966 (69% interest). Exploratory discovery at Apia is scheduled to begin production late in the second quarter while Black Widow is expected to begin production late in the fourth quarter. Mariner also expects to drill up to four more exploratory wells in the deepwater Gulf this year, with a partner paying Mariner's share of the cost for one of the wells.

Texas OCS survey begins

TGS-NOPEC Geophysical announced the beginning of Phase 48A 2D non-exclusive seismic program on the offshore Texas shelf area in the western Gulf of Mexico. Phase 48A is being acquired in partnership with Chinese Offshore Oil Geophysical Corp. COOGC's vessel M/V Bin Hai 512 began acquiring test lines for the project in January. TGS-NOPEC and COOGC are launching the first 16,000-km phase of a planned two-phase program. The companies say the 8,000-meter streamer length and 13-second record length incorporated into Phase 48A exceed the acquisition technology available on any previous projects in the area.

Callon acquires interest in deepwater prospects

Callon Petroleum announced it acquired from Vastar Resources a 20% working interest in two Gulf of Mexico deepwater prospects located in the Garden Banks area. The Entrada prospect is located in 4,690 ft of water on Garden Banks 782, 826, and 827. The initial well, to be drilled to a true vertical depth of 15,500 ft, is scheduled to be spudded during the second quarter. The Cirrus prospect is located adjacent to Entrada on Garden Banks 785 and is scheduled to be tested after the initial well is drilled at Entrada.

Pluto deepwater project resumes full flow

Mariner Energy announced that its Pluto project is fully onstream, producing 65 MMcf/d of natural gas and 10,500 b/d of oil. Production began in late December and was reduced or curtailed during January and February, while startup problems were resolved. The Pluto project is located in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico on Mississippi Canyon blocks 673, 674, 717, and 718. Production is from a single subsea well at a water depth of 2,710 ft. Operator Mariner acquired a 100% interest in the project in 1997 and 1998, but sold a 63% working interest to Burlington Resources in June 1999. Mariner's interest will increase to 51% with Burlington's at 49% after project payout.

Chevron applies for pipeline permits

Chevron proposed the excavation of about 201,000 cu yd of bottom sediment to place a 32-mile, 12-in. natural gas and condensate pipeline from Viosca Knoll 251 to an existing production platform on North West Gulf 113, and a new production platform will be constructed on Viosca Knoll 251. Chevron also proposed excavating about 64,350 cu yd of bottom sediment to place a dual 6-in., 3-in., and 2-in. pipeline bundle for 3.94 miles from the proposed Viosca Knoll 252-A production platform to the proposed Viosca Knoll 251-A central production platform. The requests, filed with the US Army Corps of Engineers and the state of Alabama, are under consideration.

Marathon consolidating deepwater groups

Marathon Oil Company says it is consolidating its Louisiana-based Gulf of Mexico production operation with the company's Houston worldwide deepwater groups, effective June 1. Marathon will maintain a small operating office in Lafayette, Louisiana.

Artificial reef application

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has filed an application with the US Army Corps of Engineers to convert an obsolete gas production platform - the Unocal MP-254A - into an artificial reef in the Gulf of Mexico in Main Pass 254.

BP Amoco buys Destin stake

BP Amoco has exercised right of first refusal to purchase Sonat's one-third interest in the Destin Pipeline's 255-mile offshore and onshore gathering and distribution system that serves natural gas producers in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. The transaction increases BP Amoco's interest in the pipeline to two-thirds, with Tejas Destin holding the remaining interest.

Buccaneer pipeline contracts starting

Buccaneer Gas Pipeline reported that a Saipem venture has signed a letter of intent to assist with design and construction of the offshore portion of the Buccaneer Gas Pipeline project, which is expected to provide up to 900 MMcf/d of natural gas transportation capacity to Florida markets. Saipem will provide engineering support during the design phase and construct about 400 miles of 36-in. diameter pipeline from the coast of Alabama across the Gulf of Mexico to the western coast of Florida.

Noble receives working interest in prospect

Noble Drilling and Mariner Energy resolved a day rate dispute regarding Mariner's use of the newly-converted Noble Homer Ferrington. Noble will drop a lawsuit it brought against Mariner on use of the rig, and the rig will be available at variable day rates for 660 days during a five-year period. Noble will also receive working interest in seven of Mariner's deepwater exploration prospects, with Mariner paying Noble's share of the drilling costs during initial test wells on those prospects.

West Cameron well completion blows out

No one was reported injured following a natural gas blowout at West Cameron 317 and the subsequent evacuation of 39 people from Marine 4 recently. Marine Drilling Companies' Marine 4 jackup rig was setting casing on a natural gas well for Forcenergy. Normal operations have resumed.

McMoRan gains exploratory rights

McMoRan Exploration and Halliburton have allied themselves for exploration and development operations in the Gulf of Mexico. By combining McMoRan's lease rights acquired from Texaco E&P and Shell Offshore with McMoRan's lease inventory, McMoRan has exploratory rights to 160 blocks covering about 750,000 acres. Strengths from McMoRan and Halliburton will be represented by the alliance.

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