A deepwater oil discovery in the Gulf of Mexico’s emerging Paleogene trend has been unveiled by BP, with the operator saying that the find – along with others in the vicinity – offers the potential for “significant future oil developments in the Keathley Canyon area”.

The Gila discovery is the third for the operator in recent years in the Paleogene trend. BP has previously announced two other large Paleogene finds in the GoM – Kaskida in 2006 and Tiber in 2009, both ultra-deep discoveries.

Gila is located in Keathley Canyon Block 93 and was drilled in approximately 1,494 m (4,900 ft) of water about 300 miles southwest of New Orleans. The well, which penetrated multiple Paleogene-aged reservoir sands, was drilled to a total depth of 8,907 m (29,221 ft). Appraisal drilling, including completion of drilling through the Paleocene section, will be required to determine the size and potential commerciality of the discovery, added BP.

Mike Daly, BP’s global head of exploration, said, “Gila continues our successful drill out of the prolific Paleogene play system in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. Subject to successful appraisal, Gila, Tiber and Kaskida together offer the potential for significant future oil developments in the Keathley Canyon area.”

“The Gila discovery is a further sign that momentum is returning to BP’s drilling operations and well execution in the Gulf of Mexico,” added Richard Morrison, regional president of BP’s GoM business. BP has an 80% interest in Gila, which is located approximately 25 miles west of Tiber. The lease for KC93 was acquired in Western GoM Lease OCS Sale 187 in 2003, with BP’s 20% partner being ConocoPhillips.

For ConocoPhillips, Gila is the company’s fourth deepwater GoM Paleogene discovery, adding to the stakes it also has in BP’s above-mentioned Tiber find (KC 102, 18%), as well as the Anadarko-operated Shenandoah discovery (Walker Ridge Block 98, 35%) and the Chevron-operated Coronado (WR 51, 30%) field.

Appraisal wells are currently being drilled on both Tiber and Coronado, while Shenandoah will see further appraisal drilling in 2014.

Exploration drilling is also under way at the Deep Nansen prospect (East Breaks Block 602, Conoco 12.5%). In 2014, the company added that it expects to initiate a multi-well operated drilling program.