Giant oilfield in the Gulf of Mexico, announced by BP

BP, the third largest global energy company, announced a newly discovered oilfield in the Gulf of Mexico, described as a “giant” find, it is estimated to contain 635 to 950 Peta Litres (4 and 6 billion barrels) of oil in place.

The Tiber oilfield partners are BP 62%, Petrobras 20% and ConocoPhillips 18%.

BP states it is too early to be sure of the size – a “huge” field is usually considered to contain 250 million (40 Peta Litres). It required the drilling of a 10685 metre deep well under 1260 metres of water (35,055 feet well under 4,132 feet or over 3/4 mile of water), making it one of the deepest wells drilled at the time of discovery (the drilling rig’s owner states “the deepest ever”).

Tiber comprises multiple Lower Tertiary reservoirs located in Keathley Canyon block 102 about 250 miles (400 kilometres) south east of Houston. Tiber is only the 18th lower tertiary well to date, and drilling in these formations is “in its infancy”.

The current largest field in production in the Gulf is the established Thunder Horse field, owned 75% by BP and 25% by Exxon, which is the current largest producer in the Gulf and second largest in the USA after the Prudhoe Bay oilfield, Alaska.

For comparison, 10 years after its 1999 discovery, Thunder Horse produces 250,000 barrels (40 MegaLitres) and 200 million cubic feet (7 GigaLitres) of natural gas per day from 7 wells, and is believed to hold in excess of 1 billion barrels (160 GigaLitres) of oil.

The oil from Tiber is light, and early estimates of recoverable reserves are around 20 – 30% recovery, suggesting figures of around 600 million to 900 million barrels (100-150 GigaLitres) of extractable oil. Sources such as Bloomberg suggest caution, warning that the find is technically complex and potentially could take 5 – 6 years to produce oil or be lower yield (5 – 15%) based on “rates talked about” at nearby Kaskida, BP’s previous “giant find” (2006) 40 miles away. The commercial prospects of the field have not yet been evaluated.

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