1. The US Minerals Management Service Western Gulf of Mexico Sale 192 gathered US $171 million in high bids from 54 companies. In all, the government agency received 421 bids for 351 of the 3,907 tracts on the table. The top bid came from The Houston Exploration Co. with an offer of $6.8 million for High Island, East Addition, South Extension, Block A 270. The Minerals Management Service, in separate action, also said it would extend the exploration period for exploration below 25,000 ft (7,625 m) under salt formations, but the extension isn't automatic. Operators must first conduct 3-D seismic, migrated below the salt sheet, on the property and submit a reasonable proposal for drilling.

2. Petsec Energy, Sydney, Australia, boosted natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico to a net 24.3 MMcfe/d with the completion of two wells in Vermilion 258. The Vermilion 258 G-1 and G-2 wells tapped reserves of approximately 23 Bcf of gas and raised Vermilion 258 field production to 19.3 MMcfe/d, or 16.1 MMcfe/d net to Petsec. The G-1 discovery well reached 85 ft (27 m) of net gas pay in six sands, while the G-2 found 42 ft (13 m) of net gas pay in three sands. Petsec has installed a production platform, facilities and pipeline for approximately US $15 million to handle up to 45 MMcfe/d. The field is in approximately 138 ft (42 m) of water.

3. Unocal Corp. drilled a dry hole at its Sardinia prospect in Keathley Canyon 681. The well had hydrocarbon shows, but they weren't commercial. Sardinia is in 6,345 ft (1,935 m) and was drilled to 27,575 ft (8,410 m) in 60 days at a cost of US $37 million.

4. Anadarko Corp. has raised spending plans this year to a range of US $2.8 billion to $3 billion from a previously announced $2.6 billion to $2.9 billion specifically to bring its K2 North discovery online more quickly. The field still will tie back to the company's Marco Polo field complex in Green Canyon 608. The combined K2, K2 North and Marco Polo fields will produce up to 120,000 b/d of oil.

5. Mad Dog has made its owners mad. An appraisal well at the discovery thwarted efforts at completion earlier this year, but BP and Unocal are going back into Mad Dog Deep well in Green Canyon 826 next year. The well is in 5,062 ft (1,543 m) of water.

6. Unocal Corp. successfully brought in the St. Malo discovery in Walker Ridge 678. Now it would like its own additional drilling and drilling by others in the deepwater area to prove up enough reserves to make the area commercial. St. Malo found more than 400 ft (122 m) of net oil pay, and an appraisal well encouraged the company to increase reserve estimates. Unocal isn't the only company that likes the area. BP is drilling its Das Bump well in Walker Ridge 724 near Unocal's La Jolla prospect just south of St. Malo and separated by a saddle. Das Bump and La Jolla are in 7,591 ft (2,314 m) of water. ChevronTexaco's Jack prospect is drilling now in Walker Ridge 759. ExxonMobil's Hadrian prospect west of Jack also is scheduled to spud in the near future.

7. Noble Energy will begin producing from its Swordfish discovery at a rate of 11,000 b/d in the second quarter next year. Noble showed its confidence in the discovery by adding to its interests in Viosca Knoll 917, 961 and 962 last May to increase its working interest to 60% from 10%. A rig currently is drilling the third well at the discovery. Noble had previously reported success at its Ticonderoga property at the Green Canyon 768 #1 well in 5,277 ft (1,608 m) of water. The discovery is near Kerr-McGee Corp.'s Constitution site.

8. Dominion Exploration & Production Inc. contracted with Kværner Oilfield Products to furnish the three steel tube umbilicals and production control system for the Triton/Goldfinger tieback in Mississippi Canyon 771 to Devil's Tower. Devil's Tower is in 5,600 ft (1,700 m) of water. The US $7 million contract includes an option for additional wells. One of the umbilicals is a 10,000-ft (3,050-m) gas-lift riser umbilical and includes a fibre-optic cable package. The Triton main field umbilical is 26,250 ft (8,006 m) long, and the Goldfinger infield umbilical is 12,250 ft (3,736 m) long.

9. Murphy Exploration & Production Co. USA will drill as many as six wells on its Dachsund South prospect. The wells will be drilled in water 8,302 ft to 8,369 ft (2,532 ft to 2,552 ft). Five of the wells are in Lloyd Ridge 1, but three of them will bottom out in Block 2. Petrobras America filed an exploration plan earlier in the year for blocks 45 and 46 immediately to the south. Anadarko Petroleum Corp. plans to drill up to 15 wells at its Mondo prospect in blocks 47 and 135. Water depths there are 8,512 ft to 8,673 ft (2,596 m to 2,645 m).

10. Kerr-McGee Corp., Devon Energy, BHP Billiton and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. are moving ahead with their deepwater Atwater Valley Producers (AVP) semisubmersible to be placed probably in the northeast corner of the Atwater Valley area near Kerr-McGee's Merganser project. Atlantia Offshore has a letter of intent to supply the platform that will float in 8,000 ft (2,438 m) of water. The group plans to deliver in March 2006.

11. Petroleos Mexicanos has delayed the start of the decline of its giant Cantarell field until 2006 with the help of a new offshore gas compression and processing plant in the Akal complex. The new platforms eliminate the need for Pemex to send 900 MMcf/d of gas to shore for processing only to have it returned for reinjection and as fuel for field operations. Pemex previously had expected its largest field to begin its decline in 2003.