Exxon Mobil announces major Gulf find

Exxon Mobil Corp. has made one of the largest oil and gas finds in the Gulf of Mexico in a decade, the company announced today.

The oil major said it made two oil discoveries and a natural gas discovery in its Keathley Canyon blocks, including an oil discovery in the company’s first exploration well since last year’s moratorium on deep-water drilling.

Exxon expects the combined finds to yield more than 700 million barrels of oil equivalent. More than 85 percent would be oil, the company said.

Drilling early in 2010 turned up oil and natural gas at the well 250 miles southwest of New Orleans in the Hadrian North field. Work was suspended during the federal drilling ban, but the well is in about 7,000 feet of water and will be drilled deeper, the company said.

“This is one of the largest discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico in the last decade,” said Steve Greenlee, president of Exxon Mobil Exploration Company. “We plan to work with our joint venture partners and other lessees in the area to determine the best way to safely develop these resources as rapidly as possible.”

Exxon operates the well in a joint venture with Eni and Petrobras, each of which hold a 25 percent interest.

The well had been blocked by the federal moratorium on deep-water drilling imposed after BP’s Macondo blowout last year. The ban was lifted in October. Exxon won a permit to proceed with the project in March.

(Image: Exxon Mobil)