Noble Energy Inc.’s (NYSE: NBL) Big Bend oil development in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico began production on Oct. 26. The single-well field is ramping as expected and is anticipated to reach a maximum gross production rate of approximately 20,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (Mboe/d) over the next couple of weeks.
Approximately 90% of the volumes being produced are oil. The company has continued to accelerate the Dantzler development and now expects first production from the Dantzler field by early November. Big Bend and Dantzler, located in Mississippi Canyon 698 and 782, respectively, are subsea tiebacks to the third-party Thunder Hawk production facility. Combined, the fields are estimated to contribute a maximum net production rate of 20 Mboe/d to Noble Energy.
Noble Energy operates Big Bend with a 54% working interest. Other interest owners are W & T Energy VI LLC (a wholly owned subsidiary of W & T Offshore Inc.) with 20%, Red Willow Offshore LLC with 15.4% and Houston Energy Deepwater Ventures V LLC with 10.6%.
The company is also the operator of Dantzler with a 45% working interest. Partners include Ridgewood Energy Corp. (including ILX Holdings II LLC a portfolio company of Riverstone Holdings LLC) with a 35% working interest, and W & T Energy VI LLC with 20%.
Noble Energy also announced that the Humpback well offshore the Falkland Islands reached total depth and is being plugged and abandoned. Humpback was drilled in the Fitzroy sub-basin of the Southern Area License and encountered noncommercial quantities of crude oil and natural gas. Full well assessment and the integration of drilling results into the company's geologic models is ongoing to determine remaining exploration potential in the Southern Area License. The geologic play including Humpback is only one of a number of prospect play types in the Southern Area License.
The rig that drilled the Humpback well will be released to another operator before returning to Noble Energy to spud the Rhea prospect in late 2015 or early 2016. Located in the Northern Area License offshore the Falkland Islands and 265 miles from Humpback, Rhea is in a petroleum basin near existing oil discoveries. Rhea is a Cretaceous-aged prospect with multiple reservoir targets and total estimated gross mean unrisked resources in excess of 250 million barrels of oil.
Noble Energy now expects total third-quarter 2015 exploration expense to be approximately $200 million, which includes the majority of net costs related to the Humpback well.