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BHP Billiton Sets Drilling Records in the Gulf of Mexico

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BHP Billiton Petroleum says that two Company-operated drilling vessels have set new benchmarks for subsalt, deepwater drilling in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. These results provide numerous benefits, including lower costs and reduced operational risks for Company projects and the people who work on them.

On May 17, 2007, while working on a development well on the Shenzi oil and gas field, the GSF C.R. Luigs achieved a record-low average of 1.52 days per 1,000 feet from spud to total depth. The well was drilled to a total depth of approximately 26,900 feet in only 33 days while operating in water depths of nearly 4,300 feet on Green Canyon Block 654.

This matches a Company record accomplished in the prior month on the Neptune development with the GSF Development Driller I, which averaged approximately 1.5 days per 1,000 feet of new hole drilled. This well was drilled in less than 20 days on Atwater Valley Block 617 in water depths of nearly 6,200 feet to a total measured depth of approximately 17,800 feet.

"These successes can be celebrated only if we achieve them while protecting the health, safety, and environment of the crews and other workers associated with these operations," noted Nigel Smith, President of Development for BHP Billiton Petroleum. "Our drilling teams work under the motto: 'Do it safe, do it right, and do it once'. Careful planning and operation by all members of the team is necessary to achieve record performances such as these."

The C.R. Luigs and the Development Driller I are both contracted from GlobalSantaFe through 2013 and 2012, respectively. BHP Billiton commissioned the C.R. Luigs drillship in the 1990s, accepting the vessel in 2000 and operating her nearly exclusively since then. The Development Driller I was delivered to the Company last year, and BHP Billiton has transferred lessons learned from operating the C.R. Luigs to the newer semi-submersible drilling platform to enhance its safety and technical performance.

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