Chevron U.S.A. Production Co. and Shell Exploration & Production Co. announced an agreement to share drilling rigs and jointly drill two exploratory wells this year in the deep-water Gulf of Mexico. Chevron and Shell will drill two exploratory wells using Shell-contracted rigs, then Chevron will use a Shell-contracted rig to drill a third well in a joint venture with Texaco. And, Chevron will provide Shell one future rig slot on Transocean Sedco Forex Inc.'s, Discoverer Deep Seas, drill ship. "This agreement is a real win-win for Chevron and Shell. It supports both companies' exploration efforts and rig needs in the deep-water this year," said Andrew L. Hardiman, vice president of Chevron's Gulf of Mexico Deep-water Business Unit. "In 1998, Chevron and Shell worked together and set a world record by drilling in a water depth of 7,718 feet on the Gamera prospect at Atwater Valley 118. With this new effort, the companies hope to set new benchmarks for low-cost deep-water drilling by utilizing Shell's 'Drilling the Limit'(TM) Process." Shell will use the semisubmbersible, Transocean Marianas, to drill the initial well on Chevron's Hurricane prospect, located in 2,000 feet of water at Ewing Bank Block 1010. Drilling is scheduled to begin in July. Chevron will have the majority interest in the prospect and will be operator for the initial well and any subsequent wells. Partners include Shell and Agip Petroleum Exploration Co. Inc., a subsidiary of ENI. Shell will also drill the initial exploratory well on Chevron's Roy prospect at Mississippi Canyon 988, utilizing Noble Drilling Corp.'s Noble Jim Thomson semi-submersible drilling vessel. The well will be drilled in 4,800 feet of water. Chevron and Shell plan to begin drilling the well by the end of April. Chevron will also operate an exploratory well with Texaco on Chevron's Poseidon prospect in Mississippi Canyon Block 772, in 4,900 feet of water. Chevron plans to begin drilling the well in May using the Transocean Marianas rig, currently contracted to Shell. Chevron and Texaco each hold a 50 percent interest in Poseidon, a large structure 21 miles west of the Crazy Horse discovery and 24 miles east of Shell's Mars project. This program represents three of the six exploratory wells Chevron will drill in the deep-water Gulf of Mexico this year. Each of these three wells will be drilled to depths greater than 20,000 feet total vertical depth.