Martin disappoints for Statoil

Statoil has seen its hopes for a high-impact discovery at a US Gulf of Mexico probe dashed after a small find was deemed non-commercial.

The Norwegian operator is plugging and abandoning the Martin wildcat in Mississippi Canyon Block 718 following the disappointing result.

The well was drilled with the Maersk semi-submersible Maersk Developer, which Upstream visited recently during Statoil's drilling campaign.

At the time there were hopes that Martin could be a high-impact discovery for Statoil - which classifies "high-impact" as anything over 250 million barrels equivalent recoverable.

Although the state-owned player did not release estimates of the possible size of Martin, it was understood that it could be between 350 million and 500 million barrels of oil equivalent.

Martin, a sub-salt prospect, is a large four-way closure in Miocene-aged sands that sits within sight of several large producing platforms, including the Shell-operated Mars and Olympus facilities, as well as Vito, in which Statoil is a partner.

It lies around 100 miles south-east of New Orleans.

Statoil dished out $157 million on Mississippi Canyon Block 718 in the 2012 Gulf of Mexico central lease sale, the highest bid for any block in that auction. It fast-tracked the prospect for a spud date on 20 April of this year.

Tore Loseth, Statoil’s vice president of the US Gulf, said earlier this year that Martin was "one of the highest-ranked prospects we have in our global portfolio, both in terms of volume and in terms of value”.

“We are sitting on a very robust prospect,”he added.

Martin straddles three blocks: MC 718, 717 and 761. The latter two are owned by privately held Llog Exploration, which also owns the block directly north-west of the Statoil-owned tract.

That made Llog an attractive partner for the Martin wildcat, and the Louisiana-based player now holds a 26% interest in MC 718. Chinese-owned Nexen and Houston-based Centaurus are also partners in Martin.

The Maersk Developer will now move on to the Perseus prospect in De Soto Canyon Block 231.

Martin was one of two disappointments revealed by Statoil on Thursday, the operator also coming up dry at the Dilolo-1 pre-salt wildcat on Block 39 in the Kwanza basin off Angola.

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