April 29, 2002; Marathon Encounters a Surprise Offshore Nova Scotia
Drilling a deep exploratory well in the Atlantic Ocean, Marathon
encountered a natural gas zone above the target structure.
Reported in a press release on April 8 as a “well control event”, a
surprise influx of methane apparently caused drilling to be suspended.
Rather than undertake an expensive remedial operation, Marathon started a
new well adjacent to the old one. Operated
by MRO with 30%, the well is shared with Encana (26%), Norsk Hydro
(25%) and Murphy (19%). Optimists
would like to think that the natural gas in the surprise zone stems from a
source that has filled the deeper structure.
Realists know the odds favor a dry hole.
Marathon stock has no expectation built into it for exploration success,
in our opinion.
Marathon was a surprise participant in a conference for independent
producers. The venue appropriately
connotes the company’s new status unaffiliated with the steel company that
acquired the predecessor MRO in 1980.