Conoco announced the discovery of crude oil and natural gas in the U.K. sector of the North Sea in block 15/29b. The Kappa exploration well was drilled in the fourth quarter of 1999 by Transocean Sedco Forex's semisubmbersible drilling rig, Drillstar. The well was drilled to a depth of 7,024 feet into late Palaeocene Forties Formation sandstone and has since been plugged and abandoned while Conoco evaluates the find. This discovery is approximately 10 miles from the Britannia field, which is currently being drilled by the Drillstar. Using advanced geophysical techniques, seismic images of the prospect were created which indicated the presence of hydrocarbons. The company drilled what the U.K. petroleum industry is calling a "finder well," which is designed to confirm the presence of hydrocarbons at a minimum cost. In the event of a discovery, as with Kappa, more comprehensive testing and evaluation can be conducted during the appraisal stage. This process can reduce drilling costs by as much as 30 percent. Another appraisal well is planned for the fourth quarter of this year.

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