Charged Frio logged below 30,000 ft on gulf shelf

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Jan. 18
-- The Blackbeard East exploratory well has become the first Gulf of Mexico shelf or deepwater well to encounter hydrocarbon-bearing sands in the Oligocene Frio formation below 30,000 ft.

The Frio sand section is geologically older than the drilled section at Blackbeard West (33,000 ft) about 10 miles west on South Timbalier Block 168, said operator McMoRan Exploration Co., New Orleans.

The Frio sand section below 30,000 ft, which wireline logs indicate has good porosity, is in addition to the 178 net ft of hydrocarbons in the Miocene the well encountered above 25,000 ft at Blackbeard East.

McMoRan said, “The pressure and temperature data below the salt weld between 19,500 ft and 24,600 ft indicate that a completion could utilize conventional equipment and technologies. Analysis of wireline log and paleo data from Blackbeard East indicates that certain Miocene sands seen in the Blackbeard East well correlate to Miocene sands at Blackbeard West. In 2011, McMoRan plans to drill a 25,000 ft offset appraisal well to further evaluate and delineate these zones in the Upper and Middle Miocene.”

McMoRan believes the Miocene structural features in Blackbeard East are similar to the structures identified in the Auger and Cardamom discoveries drilled in the Gulf of Mexico Flex Trend by other industry participants, the company said.

Blackbeard East is located high on the structure, and seismic data on the prospect indicate the potential for greatly thicker sands on flanks as has been confirmed in major deepwater discoveries by others including K2 field in deep water. McMoRan is considering downdip drilling opportunities on the structure flanks to further evaluate this section.

Blackbeard East, in 80 ft of water on South Timbalier Block 144, is drilling below 31,400 ft and is permitted to 34,000 ft.

As previously reported, McMoRan drilled Blackbeard West to 32,997 ft in 2008. Logs indicated four potential hydrocarbon-bearing zones that require further evaluation, and the well was temporarily abandoned.

McMoRan is evaluating whether to deepen Blackbeard West, drill an offset, or attempt completion in the existing zones. It expects to be granted a federal suspension of operations to allow more time to complete its assessment and rig arrangements.

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