Freeport-McMoRan finds more oil in the deep Gulf of Mexico

HOUSTON – Freeport-McMoRan Oil & Gas has found more oil at one of its Gulf of Mexico properties and believes it could eventually pump 30,000 barrels of oil equivalent daily from its deep-water facilities there.

The Houston oil company, a unit of copper miner Freeport-McMoRan, said Monday it expects to start bringing up oil and gas from three development wells it drilled at its Horn Mountain Deep field by the first half of 2017.

“Our geophysical data support the existence of prolific Middle Miocene reservoir potential for several additional opportunities in the area,” Freeport-McMoRan said.

The company has 55,000 acres of nearby prospects where it could explore the layer of oil-rich rock, which it said is deeper than its previous discoveries in the region. It had drilled its third well nearly 17,000 feet into the earth.

Freeport-McMoRan began drilling at three production platforms in the deep waters of the Gulf last year and has so far drilled a dozen wells. Three of those are producing oil and gas, and the company expects the rest to come online over the next two years.

All told, the firm believes its planned Gulf projects together could pump at least 71,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day over, turning on at different times over the next few years. Its facilities in the Gulf can produce about 250,000 barrels a day and it has scouted over 150 locations it could drill on its properties.

Last month, the company said low oil prices have prompted it to cut its capital expenditure plans next year and in 2017 by $900 million in each year, as it attempts to fund its drilling operations purely with cash it makes from selling oil.