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Leading integrated oil and gas firm, Marathon Oil Corp. (MRO - Analyst Report), announced the discovery of the first-ever exploratory well in the deepwater regions of the pre-salt play, offshore Gabon.

The Diaman-1B well, located over 60 miles away from the nearest pre-salt discovery, was drilled at a depth of 18,323 feet in approximately 5,673 feet of water.

The well discovery results reflected 160–180 net feet of hydrocarbons in the deepwater pre-salt play. Preliminary analysis revealed that the hydrocarbons found could be natural gas with condensate content. The discovery confirms that a working petroleum system exists.

The operator of the prospect – French oil major TOTAL S.A. (TOT - Analyst Report) – and partners – Marathon Oil, Cobalt International Energy Inc. (CIE - Snapshot Report) and Gabonese Republic – are evaluating the well data and will incorporate the results in understanding the full scope of the Diaman-1B discovery. Pending further data evaluation, the well will be temporarily closed.

Marathon Oil, the Houston Texas-based energy exploration and production (E&P) firm, holds 21.25% non-operated working interest in the Diaba License G4-223.

Marathon Oil’s business activity is divided into three segments, North American E&P, International E&P and Oil Sands Mining. The company’s strong inventory of development projects, recently concluded acquisitions of sizeable acreage and sound financial health make us confidant of the company’s growth. However, its international exposure and oil and gas price volatility may dampen the prospects.

Marathon Oil currently holds a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), implying that it is expected to perform in line with the broader U.S. equity market over the next one to three months.

Meanwhile, one can consider other stocks in energy sector such as Magellan Midstream Partners LP (MMP - Analyst Report) which currently holds a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy)

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