UPDATE 1-BP says drilling at 'giant' Tiber prospect in Gulf of Mexico
(Adds quotes, details on location)
HOUSTON, Sept 12 (Reuters) - BP Plc has begun appraisal drilling in its highly touted Tiber oil prospect in the Gulf of Mexico, the company said on Thursday, more than three years after its massive Macondo blowout and crude spill froze drilling in the basin for months.
BP confirmed that drilling began on Aug. 3 after ConocoPhillips Chief Executive Ryan Lance disclosed it to analysts during a webcast presentation at the Barclays Energy-Power Conference in New York. ConocoPhillips is a minority partner in Tiber.
"We are appraising the Tiber discovery which was made pre-incident in the Gulf of Mexico," Lance said, referring to BP's 2010 Macondo oil spill that spewed millions of barrels of crude into the Gulf and prompted a six-month drilling shutdown by the U.S. government.
In 2009, BP highly touted what it called a "giant" oil discovery in the Tiber field next to its Kaskida field that could hold up to 3 billion barrels of oil.
Both fields are in the Lower Tertiary trend, the Gulf's deepest, most challenging and most promising play estimated to hold up to 15 billion barrels of oil.
BP had been slated in 2010 to drill appraisal wells in the Tiber field to help gauge how much oil was there. The company's Macondo rupture and spill squashed those plans as well as drilling by other Gulf oil producers.
That drilling plan resumed last month with the start of the new well in Tiber.
(Editing by Terry Wade and Bob Burgdorfer)