BHP Petroleum set a new record for deepwater drilling in U.S. waters, the Minerals Management Service confirmed. BHP started drilling an exploration well in 8,835 feet of waters in the Gulf of Mexico on Oct. 22 on Walker Ridge Block 425.
This depth surpassed the earlier record set by Marathon Oil Co. in 7,997 feet of water in February 1999 on Walker Ridge Block 165. The BHP well is the second deepest in the world, surpassed only by a well drilled offshore Brazil in 9,111 feet waters.
The MMS also reported that current deepwater drilling activity has reached new records. In July 2000, a record 34 wells were being drilled in deepwater (deeper than 1,000 feet) in the Gulf of Mexico, up from the previous record of 33 in August 1999.
That record was broken in mid-October when 36 deepwater wells were being drilled in the Gulf. In early November, 35 wells were being drilled in deepwater.
Several wells in water depths over 7,000 feet are in progress in the U.S. Gulf. Shell is drilling in 7,790 feet of water on Alaminos Canyon Block 557 while Unocal is drilling in 7,044 feet of water on Walker Ridge Block 678.