Chevron Corp. and its partners say they have tapped into an area that may contain as much as 15 billion barrels of oil in the ultradeep waters of the Gulf of Mexico — the kind of massive reservoir of crude that the industry dubs an elephant discovery.
The days of such discoveries were supposedly gone, with oil supplies peaking as the world simply ran out of big oil-producing fields, according to pessimistic forecasters. Instead, high technology and sky-high oil prices have combined to transform dud prospects into billions of barrels of crude...
The exact size of the reserves at the Chevron well, called Jack, aren't yet known. But the company said the wider area, known as the Lower Tertiary, could contain between three billion and 15 billion barrels of recoverable oil. At the upper end of the range, that would rival the Prudhoe Bay deposits in Alaska.
And it could increase U.S. domestic reserves by 50 per cent. Only part of that overall total, however, could be attributed to the Jack prospect, which some analysts said Tuesday is likely to amount to 500 million barrels.
Whatever the ultimate size of Jack, its true importance lies in when it was discovered — earlier this decade, rather than in the 1960s or 1970s, said Mr. Lynch, president of Strategic Energy and Economic Research Inc. It is proof positive that higher commodity prices and improvements in exploration technology can result in major new discoveries, he said.