Find Boosts BP's Good Year Zz Significant Discovery in Mexican Gulf

Article excerpt

BYLINE: Brian Swint

BP's Gila prospect in the Gulf of Mexico had produced a "significant" discovery, Europe's second-biggest oil company said yesterday, capping its most successful year for exploration since 2004.

Gila, co-owned with ConocoPhillips, was found in the Paleogene trend, the same layer of rock as the Kaskida discovery in 2006 and Tiber in 2009. The well was drilled under 1 500m of water about 480km south-west of New Orleans. More drilling would be needed to determine the size of the Gila find, BP said.

Chief executive Bob Dudley pledged to focus more on exploration to help return BP to growth following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Gila is the seventh discovery from 15 exploration wells completed this year and follows potentially commercial finds in India, Egypt, Angola and Brazil.

"Exploration is at the heart of BP's upstream strategy," Lamar McKay, the head of its exploration and production arm, said in a statement. "The successes and opportunities now being delivered through our increased exploration activity confirm our confidence in our ability to sustain BP's resource base."

The company gained as much as 1 percent in early trade in London. It is up 3.1 percent since its third-quarter earnings beat analyst estimates on October 29 and it unexpectedly raised the dividend.

BP said yesterday that it would have to write off $230 million (R2. …