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U.S. oil major ConocoPhillips (COP - Analyst Report) has completed the drilling of exploration well – Proteus – 1 – using the Transocean Legend (mid-water semisubmersible). This well is part of the company’s ongoing drilling campaign.

ConocoPhillips, the operator of the well, jointly operates the WA – 398 – P permit in Browse Basin in which Proteus–1 is situated. This is the third well to be drilled in the exploration program.

Proteus–1 rests on a large tilted fault block about 8.7 miles (14 kilometers) south east of the Poseidon–1 discovery well. The other permits in Browse Basin, namely, WA – 314 – P, WA – 315 – P that ConocoPhillips operates holds the Greater Poseidon gas discoveries made earlier.

ConocoPhillips, the operator of the exploration program, intends to use the semisubmersible – Transocean Legend – for the entire campaign estimated to continue throughout 2013. Karoon Gas Australia Ltd has a stake of 40% in permit WA – 315 – P and W – 398 – P, and 90% interest in permit WA – 314 – P.

During the exploration program, a minimum of five wells will be drilled. The main goal of the exploration program is to identify the size and quality of hydrocarbon accretion inside the exploration permits. Other wells to be drilled during the exploration program will be announced as these require joint venture approval.

Last month, ConocoPhillips announced a significant oil find in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico (GoM). The WR98-1 Coronado wildcat exploration well – in Walker Ridge Block 98 – was drilled to a total depth of 31,866 feet, in 6,127 feet of water.

ConocoPhillips’ exploration initiatives toward liquids-rich plays are gaining momentum through the Eagle Ford, Bakken and North Barnett shale plays. The company is speeding up its drilling activities in the North American onshore liquids-rich plays and expects the combined yield from these plays to reach more than 200 thousand barrels of oil equivalent per day.

ConocoPhillips holds a Zacks Rank #3, which is equivalent to a short-term Hold rating. However, there are other stocks in the sector that appear rewarding. Among these, Stone Energy Corporation (SGY - Analyst Report), Range Resources Corporation (RRC - Analyst Report) and EPL Oil & Gas, Inc. , are expected to perform impressively over the next few months, and carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).
 

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