Noble buys some BP interests in US Gulf

Drilling ahead: Noble buys interest in BP's Bright prospect

US independent Noble Energy has agreed to buy 50% of BP's interest in several deep-water exploration blocks in the Atwater Valley area of the US Gulf of Mexico, including one prospect where the UK supermajor recently had troubles in an early stage of drilling.

Noble will farm in to 17 deep-water leases in the Gulf of Mexico, all of which are in the Atwater Valley area. It will take a 50% working interest in 13 of those leases and an average 26% working interest in the other four, where it was not immediately clear who the other block partners were.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Among the prospects in the exploration package is Bright, an Upper and Middle Miocene oil target in Atwater Valley Block 362 that has a total estimated gross un-risked resource range of between 90 million and 350 million barrels of oil equivalent.

BP is drilling ahead on Bright with drillship Ensco DS-4. It is the company's second attempt at drilling a successful Bright well after the wellhead on the previous attempt slipped below the mud line.

The operator confirmed to Upstream last week that the loss of the wellhead occurred during "a preliminary stage of drilling", adding that it was "thousands of feet from any hydrocarbon zone, and did not pose any risk to well integrity or the safety of the team working there".

BP re-spud the Bright well in Atwater Valley 362 late last month about two weeks after it spud the first, sources told Upstream.

Upstream understands talks between Noble and BP had commenced prior to the mishap on the first Bright well. Noble identifies "containment" as the primary risk at the Bright prospect.

The well is located in about 5600 feet of water with an anticipated total depth of 13,500 feet. Results are expected by the end of the third quarter of this year.

Noble said that in addition to Bright, "there are multiple follow-on exploration opportunities" identified on the 17 acquired leases.

Noble is also drilling the Katmai prospect in Green Canyon Block 40 with results expected by the company's second quarter earnings call. It is permitted to a total depth of 26,300.

It is also drilling a second well at Dantzler in Mississippi Canyon Block 782. The well spud late last month and is permitted to just over 18,000 feet.

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