BP PLC’s announcement this week regarding its superdeep Tiber well has spawned stories by reporters of all ilks.* Tiber is BP’s second Lower Tertiary discovery and the latest superdeep well drilled in this promising play in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, but it’s not the world’s deepest (in well-length or water depth), as some media outlets report. Transocean drilled the Tiber well in Keathley Canyon Block 102 with its ultradeepwater semisub, Deepwater Horizon, to 35,055 ft MD (35,050 ft vertical) in 4,132 ft of water. Drilling more than 6 1/2 miles required a lot of pipe, a mighty big drilling riser, and a lot of technical ingenuity. High pressures and temperatures, caustic fluids, material requirements now routinely drive ultradeep well costs above $200 million. To borrow from Intel’s current advertising slogan, engineers in our industry are bent on turning science fiction into science fact. The engineering challenges found offshore are often, and appropriately, likened to those of working in space, and we’ve seen significant breakthroughs in both areas. The diligent work has resulted in a string of deep drilling successes, the most notable of which is the Kola Peninsula Superdeep Borehole (KSDB-3) drilled near Murmansk. Spud in 1970, it finally reached 12,261 m (40,226 ft) TD in 1994. That record was only recently broken by the BD-04A, an extended-reach well off Qater. It was drilled by Maersk Oil Qatar using Transocean's GSF 127 jack up and reached 40,320 ft MD, with a horizontal section of 35,770 ft, in May 2008. But it was barely noted by the mainstream press. In the Gulf of Mexico’s Walker Ridge Block 759, Chevron USA drilled the Jack prospect and reached a TD of 28,175 ft in 2004 (6,964 ft water depth). The company announced a successful oil production test in September 2006 and the mainstream media covered the Jack discovery in a frenzy. The Jack #2 well test set many world records for test equipment pressure, depth, and duration in deep water. Other deep wells in the Lower Tertiary trend have failed to garner the same attention. In February 2009, Chevron announced another deepwater oil discovery, at the Buckskin prospect in Keathley Canyon Block 872, only 44 miles west of Jack, but the mainstream media, ever fickle, barely responded. Buckskin was drilled to 29,404 ft with the Stena Drillmax, in 6,920 ft water depth. (Way) back in 2006, BP (73.33%) and Devon (26.67%) announced the Kaskida discovery in Keathley Canyon Block 292. Although not highly touted, Kaskida was significant because it linked petroleum systems in Alaminos Canyon with those in Walker Ridge, as Don Lyle pointed out in E&P’s pages not too long ago. ---------------------------------- *Besides its use in Scrabble or Bananagrams, and its general appeal to fans of William Safire’s columns, it may be useful for anyone heading to the Offshore Europe conference in Aberdeen next week to know that Webster’s attributes the word “ilk” to Scotland, where it is “often used disparagingly.”