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World's deepest well taps giant oil find in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico

Sept. 3, 2009 at 6:54 PM   |   Comments

HOUSTON, Sept. 3 (UPI) -- BP's announcement of a new giant oil field in the depths of the U.S. waters of the Gulf of Mexico and a series of other recent major finds offshore are setting the stage for geopolitical shifts in Central and South America but also raising key questions about the future map of world oil supplies, analysts said.

The global oil supply scene in particular is up for a dramatic review after recent finds not only in Latin America but also in Asia, Africa and Greenland and potentially large onshore gas finds in the Netherlands. This is because the finds all but cancel out a lot of recent theorizing about "peak oil" -- finite hydrocarbon resources -- and expert prognoses that the end is nigh for the world's oil bonanza.

A BP spokesperson told United Press International the Gulf of Mexico find resulted from the deepest well ever dug into Earth.

The Tiber well in Keathley Canyon block 102, approximately 250 miles southeast of Houston, is in 4,132 feet of water. The well was drilled to a total depth of approximately 35,055 feet and found oil in multiple Lower Tertiary reservoirs.

"This is the deepest well in the world," she said. "Oil finds in Santos Basin in Brazil are in 2,000 meters (6564 feet) of water with total depths of between 5,000-7,000 meters (16,400-22,960 feet)."

The drilling began more than five months ago and the full extent of the oil reserves is yet to be determined, but BP said it determined the find was a "giant" one because it is seen to be greater than the 2006 Kaskida find in the same geological area, which contains around 3 billion barrels equivalent of oil.

Andy Inglis, chief executive of exploration and production, said BP could look to further expansion in the area where it already produces more than 400,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day.

Nine other fields in the area are expected to come on stream within the coming few years, BP said.

Tiber is operated by BP, which holds 62 percent, with co-owners Petrobras (20 percent) and ConocoPhillips (18 percent).

Petrobras, the state company of Brazil and a global player, is currently at the center of an ambitious project to raise more than $174 billion for a five-year plan to develop Brazil's newly found deepwater reserves.

Brazil is currently debating whether to invite foreign partners into its projects or to go it alone. Asked if it would enter a Brazilian venture, BP said it would look into any business opportunities.

Analysts said the new BP find, although in a hurricane-prone region, would increase BP's maneuverability in supply terms and also add to its clout in the region and the world at large.

Further afield, large finds in Uganda, Iran and Greenland have further weakened the argument that the Earth's hydrocarbon resources have peaked and there is now urgent need to find alternative sources of energy.

In Latin America, Brazil's newfound oil wealth has added to its political standing and given new impetus to President Lula da Silva's bid for regional pre-eminence.

Recent tensions over Colombian-U.S. military agreements to build up the war on drug cartels have further raised Lula's profile as a potential counterweight to Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, who has been critical of increased U.S. military presence on the continent.

© 2009 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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