On a sultry Sunday during the long Fourth of July weekend, the team drilling the Zama-1 well offshore Mexico emailed an image back to their boss in Houston, oilman Tim Duncan. The rig was drilling through an Upper Miocene sandstone at the time, on Block 7 of the Sureste Basin.

“I went up to the office and we were about 100 feet into the pay section, so we ordered some wings and then we watched the monitors as a group in our ‘war room,’” said Duncan, president and CEO of Talos Energy LLC.

“Then 24 hours later when we were still in pay, the food and beverage at the office improved significantly.”

Indeed, some fine red wine was brought in to celebrate—for Talos had drilled through 1,100 feet of gross pay—and discovered what it estimates could be 300 million to 550 million barrels of recoverable oil on the block.

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