Valaris DPS-5 rig. Source: Lukoil

Fresh oil & gas discovery in Latin America puts hub development on the table

Italian energy giant Eni has made a new oil and gas discovery in an exploration well located in Block 9 in the Sureste Basin off the coast of Mexico, using a Valaris-owned semi-submersible rig.

Valaris DPS-5 rig. Source: Lukoil

The preliminary estimates of Eni’s latest discovery at the Yopaat-1 EXP exploration well in Block 9, approximately 63 kilometers off the coast in the mid-deep water of the Cuenca Salina in the Sureste Basin, indicate a discovered potential of around 300-400 million barrels equivalents (mboe) of oil and associated gas in place. This follows the Yatzil discovery in Block 7 and the  Saasken and Sayulita discoveries in Block 10.

The well, which has been drilled in a water depth of 525 meters, reached a total depth of 2,931 meters, finding about 200 meters net pay of hydrocarbon-bearing sands in the Pliocene and Miocene sequences, subject to an intense subsurface data acquisition campaign. The exploration well was drilled with the Valaris-owned Valaris DPS-5 semi-submersible rig, which Eni previously hired on a three-well contract in 2022 for operations in Mexico.

The rig also got a two-well contract in November 2023 with the Italian giant, which was expected to begin in March 2024 with a minimum duration of 110 days. The operating day rate is $345,000, plus a $3 million mobilization fee. The 2012-built Valaris DPS-5 rig, previously known as ENSCO 8505 from the 8500 Series, can accommodate 150 people.

Eni sees its latest hydrocarbon find, alongside the discoveries in its operated blocks 7 and 10, as a confirmation of the value of its asset portfolio in the Sureste Basin. As the overall estimate of resources in place currently exceeds 1.3 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe), the Italian giant claims that this allows it to advance with studies toward a potential future hub development, including the discoveries and other prospects present in the area, in synergy with the infrastructures located nearby.

While the Block 9 joint venture consists of Eni as the operator with a 50% participating interest and Repsol with the remaining 50%, the Italian oil major has been in Mexico since 2006 and established its wholly-owned subsidiary in 2015. The company holds rights in eight exploration and production blocks and operates seven in the Sureste Basin in the Gulf of Mexico.

Eni has also been busy elsewhere, including Africa, where the oil major is building another floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) unit destined for work on Congo LNG. The Italian heavyweight confirmed that the construction is progressing according to schedule, with work expected to start in Q4 2025.