Success of Vast Untapped Deep Water Resources is Good News for Offshore Contractors
Royal Dutch Shell (Shell) last week announced a potential 100M barrel oil find in the Gulf of Mexico. Shell’s Vicksburg exploratory well found an estimated 500 feet of net oil pay five miles from the company’s Appomattox site, containing an additional 500M barrels of potential recoverable resources.
“The reason that Vicksburg is important is that it is another significant discovery and it is adjacent to Appomattox,” said Mark Shuster, Executive Vice President of Shell Upstream Americas Exploration. “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.”
The discovery is notable not only for its vast addition to potential oil reserves, but for advances in exploration that the project proved successful. The Vicksburg well is nearly 7,500 feet below sea level, and the well is 26,385 feet deep, making it one of Shell’s deepest wells in the Gulf.
“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,” said Shuster.
Appomattox and Vicksburg drill into the Norphlet Play, a large Upper Jurassic play that stretches from most areas of Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana into the deep waters of the Gulf. Nearly 15 years ago, Shell geologists began contemplating how to successfully explore the deep water reserves of Norphlet Play.
“No one thought we would be able to find oil in this reservoir in the deep water,” said Shuster. “But we made the first forays into this play, and subsequently, other companies are coming along.”
Shell’s first discovery at Appomattox in 2009 prompted plans for further development, and the Vicksburg discovery promises even further growth. This should be encouraging news for contract workers in the offshore industry. Shell is said to be contemplating marrying the two wells to capitalize economically on the recovery of reserves.
“The results of the Vicksburg well strengthen our existing deep water Gulf of Mexico exploration portfolio and should contribute to the nearby Appomattox discovery,” Shuster said.