Joe Carroll: Texas Wildcatter Moncrief Hits Latest Gusher Beneath Old Fields. (Hat tip: John A. Bailo)
Jan. 20 (Bloomberg) -- William “Tex” Moncrief, the billionaire wildcatter and scion of one of the founding families of the Texas oil industry, is betting the key to finding new gushers is to go deeper than anyone has gone before.
Moncrief agreed in September to help finance McMoRan Exploration Co.’s $70 million Davy Jones well off the Louisiana coast in exchange for a 10 percent stake in the prospect. The gamble paid off last week, when New Orleans-based McMoRan said the well hit what may be one of the biggest Gulf of Mexico oil and gas discoveries in decades.
Moncrief bought a piece of Davy Jones after being impressed by McMoRan’s success with a former Exxon Mobil Corp. well known as Blackbeard at a then-record depth of 32,997 feet (10,057 meters). He said he’s eager to invest in more projects with McMoRan Co-Chairman James “Jim Bob” Moffett, a friend of 50 years and a pioneer in finding oil miles beneath old fields.
“I knew Jim Bob took in that old Exxon Blackbeard well and went deeper with it to make it work,” Moncrief, 89, said in a telephone interview from the headquarters of closely held Moncrief Oil in Fort Worth, Texas. “I’ve drilled lots of deep wells. Sometimes when you don’t find what you’re looking for, you have to just keep on going.”
The biggest find so far in Moncrief’s 64 years in the oil patch was the Madden field in Wyoming, which he tapped at almost 28,000 feet underground in 1969. Four decades after its discovery, Madden is pumping out enough natural gas to rank as the state’s fifth-biggest producer, according to the Wyoming Oil and Gas Commission.
“Tex has always been very aggressive and willing to go after deals,” said A.V. Jones, owner of Van Operating Ltd., an Albany, Texas-based oil producer. “He’s been a leader as far as going after some of the deep stuff that takes real money to make it play.”
McMoRan said today that its Davy Jones well found additional hydrocarbon-bearing sands after drilling deeper following the discovery announced last week. The well was drilled to 28,603 feet, all but about 20 feet of that beneath the seafloor. It has found 200 net feet of productive sands and will go deeper, according to McMoRan.