Houston Exploration Makes Deep-Shelf Gas Discovery

The Houston Exploration Company has made its first shallow-water, deep-shelf gas discovery at High Island 115. The #1 well was drilled to 19,800 feet and tested 20 million cubic feet of gas per day. The well was drilled by Rowan Companies jackup, Arch Rowan. The company anticipates first production during the fourth quarter of 2003, pending construction of facilities. Houston Exploration has a 50 percent working interest in the project. The well is operated by El Paso Production Oil & Gas Company as a part of the previously announced joint-venture agreement between both companies.

"This high-risk well confirms our view for the potential of the deep shelf," said William G. Hargett, president and chief executive officer. "The knowledge that we gained from drilling this well can be applied to other deep- shelf opportunities we have offshore in the Gulf of Mexico."

Charles W. Adcock, senior vice president and general manager of the offshore region added, "Being in only 44 feet of water, we will be able to bring this well on production quickly, and with the current pricing environment, it will be highly economic for Houston Exploration."

Affirming its conviction to pursue deep-shelf potential, in addition, the company recently signed an agreement with Fairfield Industries to license offshore 3-D seismic data that will double the company's present in-house 3-D resources. Included in the agreement is Fairfield's newly released "Deep- Shelf Program" 3-D seismic data that will be instrumental in developing a strategy for the play.

Houston Exploration has 118 leases along the Continental Shelf of the Gulf of Mexico and has budgeted for five more deep-shelf wells in 2003. West Cameron 227, the next well on the inventory, should begin drilling July 2003.