Gulf of Mexico deepwater discoveries survey shows notable increase

Feb. 13, 2024
Eight new finds announced over past 12 months

Editor's note: This feature article first appeared in the January-February 2024 issue of Offshore magazine. Click here to view the full issue.

By Bruce Beaubouef, Managing Editor


Operators announced eight new discoveries in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico over the past twelve months, representing a notable increase over the three deepwater discoveries reported the year before. 

While this is a marked increase over some recent surveys, the overall number of deepwater discoveries is down significantly as compared to the amount seen 20 years ago. In 2004, for example, there were 12 discoveries recorded in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. The lower level has been driven by two oil price shocks in recent years; and more recently, a suspension of lease sales and a focus on renewable energy that has in turn led to lower levels of investment and drilling. 

As has often been the case in recent years, the drilling activity has been driven by the larger independents and medium-sized operators, with Talos Energy, Murphy Oil, Kosmos Energy and Hess Corp. (now part of Chevron) leading the way.

Last May, Murphy Oil reported that it had discovered oil in the Longclaw prospect in the Green Canyon block 433. The well delivered about 62 ft of net oil pay and reached a total measured depth of 25,106 ft. Further studies are underway, the company reported in its latest results statement. The company also started production from the Samurai #5 well in Green Canyon 432, with better-than-expected volumes, reflecting discovery of new pay zones in the field in 2022.

Another discovery last summer was Hess’s oil find at its Pickerel-1 prospect in Mississippi Canyon block 727. The Pickerel-1 well encountered net pay of about 90 ft in an oil bearing, Miocene age reservoir. Plans are underway for a tieback of the well to the Tubular Bells production platform, 135 km southeast of New Orleans, with first oil expected in mid-2024.

Meanwhile, Kosmos Energy says that it is conducting rock and fluid analysis on its Tiberius oil discovery in Keathley Canyon block 964. The well, drilled in 7,500 ft (2,300 m) of water last October, delivered 250 ft (75 m) net oil pay in the main Wilcox target. Kosmos says that it is working with partners on subsea development options. Tiberius is six miles southeast of the Occidental-operated Lucius spar production platform.

Talos Energy reported six successful exploration wells in the US Gulf of Mexico last year, and four of these have moved close to production.

At the Pompano field, the Mount Hunter development well delivered commercial volumes of oil and gas, with estimated recoverable resources of 5-6 MMboe. Located in Viosca Knoll block 989, production is expected to ramp up to 4 MMboe/d.

The A-26 ST well drilled from the Lobster platform in Ewing Bank 873 encountered pay in multiple field horizons. Talos has a 67% interest in Lobster, which came with its acquisition of EnVen’s portfolio.

The Gunflint #1-ST well in Mississippi Canyon block 948 also proved commercial quantities of oil and gas.  

The Spruance West discovery, located in Ewing Bank block 877, was also part of the EnVen package, with initial flow rates of over 3 MMboe/d.

In Green Canyon block 821, the BP-operated Puma West appraisal well (PW #2) and subsequent downdip sidetrack were both reported to have encountered hydrocarbons in multiple sands. But more hydrocarbons from a subsequent well or sidetrack will likely be needed to proceed with a development.

Meanwhile, Talos says that its Lime Rock and Venice prospects were deemed to have commercial quantities of oil and natural gas last year. Talos expects combined gross production rates of approximately 15-20 MBoe/d from expected combined gross recoverable resources of 20-30 MMBoe. Both wells will be subsea tiebacks to the Talos owned and operated Ram Powell facility and are expected online sometime in 1Q 2024.

Check out Offshore's annual GoM data table:

Status of US Gulf of Mexico deepwater discoveries since 2000



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