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Royal Dutch Shell is celebrating after its Gulf of Mexico Vicksburg exploratory well discovered an estimated 500 feet of oil, thought to contain around 100 million barrels, and boosting the company’s Gulf of Mexico asset value. Shell had already encountered a 500 million barrel reserve just five miles away at the Appomattox site.
Mark Shuster, the executive vice president of Shell Upstream Americas Exploration, said that “this is a Jurassic-age reservoir that is more than 160 million years old that was deposited as desert dunes and now is sitting beneath the floor of the Gulf of Mexico.”
Shell has had a lot of success drilling on the back of a hunch.
The Norphlet Play is a large Upper Jurassic play that exists in most areas of Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana, and around 15 years ago Shell’s geologists suggested that the play could possibly stretch out into the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Shuster explained that “no one thought we would be able to find oil in this reservoir in the deep water. But we made the first forays into this play, and subsequently, other companies are coming along.”
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Shell bought the required licenses in 2002, and then made its first discovery at Appomattox in 2009.
Shell’s Deepwater Nautilus drilling platform was used on the Appomattox and Vicksburg wells.
Shuster said that “the Norphlet Play is a strong pillar of our portfolio. We have been out there since the early 2000s, exploring for oil in these deep plays. We are quite happy — we have had the Appomattox success and now this new Vicksburg success.
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The reason that Vicksburg is important is that it is another significant discovery and it is adjacent to Appomattox. What’s most surprising is that we found a resource base that is in the range of what we had expected, but at the higher end.”
Having the Vicksburg and Appomattox wells so close to each other offers the possibility of linking them in order to share some of the production costs, and making them more profitable.
The Vicksburg is one of Shell’s deepest Gulf of Mexico wells, drilled to a total depth of 26,385 feet, and standing in nearly 7,500 feet of water.
By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com