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Energy giant, Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM - Analyst Report) started the development of the Julia oil field in the Gulf of Mexico. Per company estimates this would bore a hole of over $4 billion in capital costs. The Julia field, which was discovered in 2007, is expected to contain reserves of approximately 6 million barrels.

The company expects to start production at the oil field in 2016. Exxon is targeting to start with daily production of 34,000 barrels of oil. To speed up things the company has already completed the project front end engineering design of the project. It has also placed the requisite engineering, procurement and construction contracts.

The Julia field has five leases in the ultra-deepwater Walker Ridge area of the Gulf of Mexico, which is 265 miles southwest of New Orleans. The resource is located 30,000 feet below the surface of the ocean. The ownership of the Julia unit is equally shared between the operator, ExxonMobil and Statoil ASA (STO - Analyst Report). The oil field includes six wells with subsea tie-backs to Chevron Corporation’s (CVX - Analyst Report) production facility Jack & St. Malo.

Exxon Mobil is the world’s largest publicly-traded oil company, engaged in oil and natural gas exploration and production, petroleum products refining and marketing, chemicals manufacture, and other energy-related businesses. Approximately 83% of Exxon Mobil’s earnings come from its operations outside the U.S.

Exxon Mobil is one of the world’s best-run integrated oil company given its track record of superior returns on the capital employed. The energy giant has long been a core holding for investors seeking a defensive name with continued dividend growth. Exxon Mobil is fairly active in its investment program. The company plans to spend about $185 billion over the next five years, up 29% from the last five-year period.

The capital expenditure covers as many as 21 important oil and gas projects currently under the anvil and are estimated to accumulate over 1 million net oil-equivalent barrels per day by 2016. It includes the Kearl Oil Sands development project in Canada, four in West Africa and Kashagan Phase 1 in Kazakhstan. Exxon is also engaged in a large liquefied natural gas project in Papua New Guinea, which is expected to begin deliveries in 2014. It will further unearth more oil from the development of Hebron oil field offshore the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The development will help in recovering over 700 million barrels of oil and the platform is expected to yield its first oil towards the end of 2017.

Exxon Mobil holds a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). However, in the near term, a stock like Braskem S.A. (BAK - Snapshot Report) with a Zacks Rank #1 is expected to outperform the market over the next few months.

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