US independent Murphy Oil said an exploration well has started drilling on the Silverback prospect in the US Gulf of Mexico and will test an "attractive new play-opening trend".

If the well is successful, it could provide "additional high-potential opportunities to our large adjacent acreage position”, said Murphy chief executive Roger Jenkins.

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Murphy has an interest in the nearby Delta House offshore production facility and a host of identified prospects.

Its farm-in to the permit also gave it access to 12 additional blocks.

The Silverback well spudded in late April 2021 in Mississippi Canyon 35 and the operator is Chevron.

Meanwhile, Murphy said its net production in the US Gulf during the first quarter averaged 71,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, consisting of 78% oil.

A drilling programme is under way at the Khaleesi, Mormont, Samurai development, and the first producer well for the St Malo waterflood was brought online in the first quarter; drilling began on the final well of the four-well campaign early in the second quarter.