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Total and ExxonMobil will drill the first deepwater well in a block awarded at a Mexican hydrocarbon auction in October.

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The companies have identified a potential ultra-deepwater structure named Etzil at Block 2 of the Perdido Fold Belt, Mexico's National Hydrocarbon Commission, or CNH, said at webcast session on Friday.

The structure is the most prolific structure identified in an exploration program approved by CNH to date of blocks awarded at Mexico's deepwater hydrocarbon auction Round 1.4 in December 2016.

Total and ExxonMobil has estimated Etzil has 50% probability of holding as much as 2.7 billion barrels of oil equivalent of prospective resources, CNH said.



CNH said Total and ExxonMobil could eventually incorporate as much as 916 million boe from the 80 sq km structure.

Statoil, Total and BP have identified two other deepwater structures in Mexico's Cuenca Salina basin -- Hunab with 397 million boe and Serrano with 325 million boe of prospective resources.

Chevron, Inpex, and Pemex also have identified two potential exploration targets in Perdido, but CNH has not disclosed their prospective resources.

Operators BP will drill Hunab-1 in the third quarter of 2019 and Statoil a well in Serrano-1 in Q3 2020. However, Chevron does not have a plan to drill at the moment.

Etzil from these deepwater wells has the highest geological success rate with 34%. Meanwhile, Serrano-1 has a geological success rate of 23% and Hunab-1 of 15%.

Etzil is 100 km southwest of Pemex's prolific Maximino-Nobilis deepwater project, which has 700 million boe of proven, probable and possible reserves of light oil and gas.

The area is also 10 km east of Vasto-1 and Melanocetus-1, two gas producing exploratory wells. CNH said Block 2 is the furthest eastern area to be explored and drilled in Perdido.

As the block's operator, Total proposed CNH two exploration programs. The first is drilling only Etzil-1 with a total depth of 7,000 meters. The second plan is to drill Etzil-1 and another well at the end of 2020, each with a depth of 4,900 meters.

Etzil's exploration targets are the Oligocene and Wilcox, both proven plays in the region. This second well would drill the untested Miocene horizon, CNH said.

The joint venture will do several geological studies to de-risk Etzil and identify other potential exploration targets in the block, which covers over 2,900 sq km.

An ExxonMobil executive in Mexico told S&P Global Platts Friday that it would go ahead with its investment plans in the Latin American country regardless of who wins the coming Mexican presidential elections or if the North American Free Trade Agreement is scrapped.

Leading presidential candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has pledged to halt the country's energy reform. It currently leads the election with a 42% vote intention according to a poll released last week by Mexico City-based newspaper El Financiero.

The commission is still evaluating other four exploration programs from blocks awarded in Round 1.4: two from CNOOC, one from PC Carigali and Sierra, and one from the consortium of Murphy, Ophir, PC Carigali and Sierra.

To date, CNH has awarded 27 deepwater blocks between Round 1.4 and 2.4, holding 30 billion boe of prospective resources.

S&P Global Platts Analytics expects deepwater production from these blocks to begin after 2025, with output growing to about 700,000 b/d by 2040.

--Daniel Rodriguez, newsdesk@spglobal.com

--Edited by Irene Tang, irene.tang@spglobal.com