Chevron Copyright Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

BP, Chevron, Conoco Team Up on Gulf Oil Project

NEW YORK -- BP, Chevron and ConocoPhillips (IW 500/22) are tying up to exploit two "significant" deepwater oil discoveries in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, BP announced Wednesday.

British oil giant BP (IW 1000/4) said it would sell about half of its equity interest in the Gila and Tiber fields to the two U.S. firms, leaving the three with equal working shares in the prospects and any future centralized production facility.

The three have also agreed to joint ownership of the Gibson exploration block in the same region, with plans to drill an initial well this year.

BP said the exploration and development work in the deep Paleogene, or lower tertiary subsea strata, in the Gulf involves challenging high temperature and high-pressure oil reservoirs.

Combining the three companies' technical capabilities and financial resources "will provide greater efficiency through scale, reduce subsurface risk and increase the likelihood of achieving a future commercial development," BP said.

In 2010 a well BP was drilling in a different risky high-pressure zone blew out, killing 11 people as it destroyed the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and fouling the Gulf of Mexico with millions of barrels of oil.

The British oil company has paid out more than $30 billion in fines, lawsuit settlements and cleanup costs in the case.

BP said Chevron (IW 500/2) will be the operator of Tiber, Gila and Gibson, "building on its recent success in starting up the Jack/St. Malo oil production platform... on time and on budget," BP said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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