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South Marsh Island 36 and 37

In 1989, Walter farmed in and discovered the South Marsh Island 36/37 Field. The initial well on block 36 logged 60’ of gas in two Miocene reservoirs. Non-proprietary 2-D seismic data revealed strong amplitude anomalies nearby, prompting the drilling of a second well into the adjacent block 37, which yielded a total of 170’ of gas.

After the discovery wells were evaluated, a platform and pipeline were installed and production began with 8 mmcf/d and 400 bblc/d. Walter then acquired a proprietary 3D survey that revealed a number of untested amplitude anomalies to the west of the platform. Another well was directionally drilled, finding nine productive oil and gas sands, totaling 450’ of hydrocarbon pay. A second platform was installed over this well, simplifying subsequent operations. The field produced 168 billion cubic feet of gas and 8 million barrels of oil before it was abandoned in 2008.

West Delta 107

WD 107 is located eight miles seaward of the Southwest Pass of the Mississippi River within a large active mudflow. Prior to Walter’s discovery, several operators had drilled wells on the block, but none had encountered hydrocarbons. At the time, 2D seismic data wasn't sufficient to define subsurface structure or image amplitude anomalies in an area of mudflow. However, in the early 90s, Walter obtained a new survey that utilized advancements in 3D processing and acquisition techniques. While still imperfectly imaged due to the mudflow, Walter believed the new data indicated that prior wells had just missed a major hydrocarbon accumulation. In 1993, Walter made a significant discovery on the block. Interestingly, the accumulation was missed by less than 200’ by wells drilled by Humble Oil in 1968 and by McMoran in 1983. The field, which includes parts of WD 106 and 107, has produced 18 million barrels of oil and 112 billion cubic feet of gas to date.

Viosca Knoll 862

Viosca Knoll 862 was Walter’s first subsea oil project as well as one of the company’s early horizontal well completions. While several previous wells had been drilled on the block, commercial reserves had not been established. Walter drilled its first well in VK 862 in 1995, hoping to find enough reserves to justify setting a platform in approximately 1000’ of water. Although encountering an oil zone, the well was deemed marginally economic. This changed dramatically with the drilling of the Walter #2 well, which found sufficient reserves to be completed subsea. The well has since yielded over 11 million barrels of oil and 12 bcfg. Walter has drilled three additional wells, two of which are flowing back to a fixed-leg platform in VK 817. Total production of all wells is over 15 million barrels of oil and 15 billion cubic feet of gas.

Ewing Bank 834

The Coelacanth Field (Ewing Bank 834) is located approximately 125 miles south of New Orleans in a water depth of 1195’. When Walter first leased the block in 2006, existing 3D seismic data revealed shallow oil on the northern flank of a salt dome. There were indications of deeper potential, but the data was poorly resolved. In 2008, a non-proprietary 3D survey with better acquisition parameters, allowing for deeper imaging, was purchased. This data showed a more promising anomaly at 20,000 feet, deeper than any existing well had penetrated.

Given the depth and expense of the well, securing drilling partners to this prospect would be challenging, particularly considering that 2009 was the nadir of the financial crisis. Nonetheless, Walter was able to secure partners and on March 23, 2010, the #2 well was spudded. Less than a month later, the Deepwater Horizon caught fire, shutting down all deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

It was more than a year before drilling could resume. In February 2012, the semisubmersible Ocean Victory drilled to its target depth and encountered oil in several zones, enough to justify a fixed-leg platform, which would eliminate production issues with high-pressure oil zones and allow for additional drilling with a lower-cost platform rig.

The Coelacanth platform is the third-tallest structure of its kind in the Gulf of Mexico—roughly 150 feet taller than the Eiffel Tower. Installation was completed in Q4 2015, with production start-up slated for mid-2016.