Exploratory drilling a gamble in deep Gulf
Recent weeks have revealed two failures in exploratory offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico that serve as a reminder of the high stakes involved in the gamble that is deepwater oil-prospecting, The Houston Chronicle reports. On May 23, Anadarko Petroleum Corp. admitted defeat at its Spartacus project, where the company sunk $20 million for pay dirt and came up dry. On May 18, the Spanish oil firm Repsol also said it came up dry off the northern coast of Cuba, where it spent about $100 million in political and financial capital for exploratory drilling. Such failed bids aren't uncommon in the Gulf. Some estimates say only one of four exploratory wells strike black gold and that the success rate decreases in frontier regions, dropping odds to one in nine. But the successes keep oil companies returning to drill. A Chevron drilling superintendent told The Houston Chronicle in 2010 that despite advancements in seismic research, computer modeling and geophysical surveys, drilling is a big gamble at thousands of feet below the seabed. Outside Cuba, the Malaysian state-owned oil company Petronas plans to drill in nearby waters with the same rig Repsol used.
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