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Shell has made a third major oil discovery in the Norphlet play in deep waters of the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

The company found oil near its Rydberg exploration well, which is in 7,479ft of water approximately 75 miles offshore in Mississippi Canyon Block 525.

Shell drilled the well to a total depth of 26,371ft and found oil reserves more than 400ft deep.

The company anticipates the resource base to be around 100 million barrels of oil equivalent and Rydberg well joins the Appomattox and Vicksburg wells, also in the Norphlet play, bringing the total potential of discoveries to more than 700 million barrels of oil equivalent.

Shell has an operator interest of 57.2% in the Rydberg discovery while Ecopetrol America and Nexen, a wholly owned affiliate of CNOOC, have 28.5% and14.3% stakes respectively.

"Shell drilled the well to a total depth of 26,371ft and found oil reserves more than 400ft deep."

Shell and Nexen plan to follow up the Rydberg discovery with an exploratory well at Gettysburg in Desoto Canyon Block 398, which is within ten miles of the planned Appomattox development.

Shell upstream Americas director Marvin Odum said: "The Rydberg discovery builds upon our leadership position in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and its proximity to our other discoveries in the area make Rydberg particularly exciting."

The Gulf of Mexico accounts for about 50% of Shell’s oil and gas production in the US with output of approximately 180,000bpd in 2013.

Image: Shell and the Norphlet play. Photo: courtesy of Shell.