Jan. 9 (UPI) -- BP approved a new phase of its Atlantis field, as well as identified 1 billion barrels of oil in place at the Thunder Horse field and announced two new discoveries near the Na Kika platform that will add a combined 100,000 barrels of oil equivalent to its output in the Gulf of Mexico in coming years.
BP said that its current Gulf of Mexico production of 300,000 barrels of oil equivalent daily will grow "to around 400,000 barrels of oil equivalent through the middle of the next decade," according to a Tuesday release.
Recent project startups, including the announced Thunder Horse expansion and a water injection project, in addition to a second platform at its Mad Dog field that will come online in late 2021, will support the projected output growth, BP added.
The company approved the Atlantis Phase 3 development program, in which BP has rights to 56 percent of the field and will cost $1.3 billion. BHP, which holds the other 44 percent, "is expected to make a final investment decision" early this year, BP said.
"The approval for this latest development comes after recent BP breakthroughs in advanced seismic imaging and reservoir characterization revealed an additional 400 million barrels of oil in place at the Atlantis field," BP said.
In addition, BP has identified significant additional oil in place at its Thunder Horse field in the Gulf of Mexico through a recently developed "seismic imaging technique known as Full Waveform Inversion." The method reduces needed exploration time from about a year to just weeks.
"Application of this technology and reservoir characterization has now identified a further 1 billion barrels of oil in place at the Thunder Horse field," it said.
BP also announced "two oil discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico, at the Manuel and Nearly Headless Nick prospects."
The Manuel discovery is located east of its Na Kika platform, which will make it possible to extract it via subsea tieback to the Na Kika platform. BP's partner in the Manuel discovery is Shell, which has a 50 percent interest.
The Nearly Headless Nick discovery is in an area operated by the Lousiana-based LLOG exploration company where BP has a 20 percent stake.
BP had announced an expansion of its Thunder Horse field in October.
At the time it said it operated four large production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico -- Thunder Horse, Atlantis, Mad Dog and Na Kika. It said it also holds interests in four non-operated hubs, or offshore floating facilities -- Mars, Olympus, Ursa and Great White.
According to the Energy Information Administration, crude oil production in the Gulf of Mexico was 1.7 million barrels per day in October, the latest figures available.