Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE:APC) has a large inventory of oil and gas prospects in the Gulf of Mexico and plans to continue an aggressive multi well exploration program here in 2012. The company is targeting a number of different trends in the deepwater portion. To know more about oil and gas, read Oil And Gas Industry Primer.

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Gulf of Mexico Production
Anadarko Petroleum has been an active player in the Gulf of Mexico for decades, and the region accounts for a significant portion of its oil and gas production. The company reported average production of 110,000 BOE per day from this area in the fourth quarter of 2011. In 2011, it reported total sales volume of 680,000 BOE per day.

2012 Capital
The company has historically been active in exploration efforts in the Gulf of Mexico and has 3 million gross prospective acres spread over 500 blocks. It has spent $7.5 billion on exploration over the last eight years and added 4 billion BOE in resource potential.

It plans to spend $1.4 billion in exploration capital this year, with 20% devoted to projects in the Gulf of Mexico. The company will drill between six and eight wells during the year.

Shenandoah Discovery
Anadarko has been exploring in the Lower Tertiary trend in the Gulf of Mexico and reported a successful exploration well at the Shenandoah prospect in 2009. The company found 300 feet of net oil pay in the Wilcox formation. This year, the company is planning to drill an appraisal well at the Shenandoah prospect as it looks to determine the potential of this discovery.

Anadarko is the operator of the Shenandoah field and owns 30%. Other companies involved at this field include Conoco Phillips (NYSE:COP), Cobalt International Energy (NYSE:CIE) and Marathon Oil (NYSE:MRO).

It's also planning to drill the Coronado and Yucatan prospects this year, as it tests the Lower Tertiary areas in the Gulf that are located near the Shenandoah prospect.

Pliocene Play
Anadarko is working on a sub salt Pliocene play in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, and recently received regulatory approval to drill the Spartacus Prospect. The company has a three well program planned at this prospect.

If successful, this prospect and several others in the area will be tied into the Luicius development, which is also under development by the company.

The Bottom Line
Anadarko Petroleum has reported many successful discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico over the last few years, as its exploration program here has paid off for the company. Despite these successes, it is not resting and has a full inventory of prospects to test in 2012. For additional reading, check out A Guide To Investing In Oil Markets.

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At the time of writing, Eric Fox did not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article.