BP will launch what it is calling a major expansion into deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and has identified additional oil resources that could lead to further development.

The company made the announcement Tuesday morning regarding its $1.3 billion development in the Atlantis Field, which is about 130 miles south of the Louisiana coast. The approval comes after recent BP made breakthroughs in advanced seismic imaging and reservoir characterization that revealed an additional 400 million barrels of oil in place at the Atlantis field.

“BP’s Gulf of Mexico business is key to our strategy of growing production of advantaged high-margin oil," said Bernard Looney, BP's Upstream chief executive. "We are building on our world-class position, upgrading the resources at our fields through technology, productivity and exploration success.

“And these fields are still young – only 12 percent of the hydrocarbons in place across our Gulf portfolio have been produced so far. We can see many opportunities for further development, offering the potential to continue to create significant value through the middle of the next decade and beyond.“

The technology, company officials said in the announcement, resulted in an additional 1 billion barrels of oil at the Thunder Horse field, which is off the coast of Plaquemines Parish. Two new discoveries near the Na Kika production facility, also southeast of New Orleans, could provide further tie-back development opportunities.

Atlantis Phase 3 will include the construction of a new subsea production system from eight new wells that will be tied into the current platform, 150 miles south of New Orleans. Scheduled to come onstream in 2020, the project is expected to boost production at the platform by an estimated 38,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day gross at its peak.

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