If you were searching for ultradeep oil and gas deposits in the Gulf of Mexico, which target would you choose to drill: the one about 250 miles offshore in 4,132 feet of water, or the one 10 miles offshore in 20 feet of water?
BP chose the former, and with the help of firms like Transocean
McMoRan's Davy Jones prospect, drilled in partnership with Plains Exploration & Production
Interestingly, the Wilcox is the same trend that firms like Anadarko Petroleum are targeting in the deepwater. McMoRan geologists theorized that they could hit the same structure much closer to shore, and they were right.
Here's the basic trade-off: McMoRan saves a lot of money on its drilling rig by using a jackup instead of a half-million-dollar-a-day drillship. On the other hand, the company has to drill through several thousand feet more rock than its deepwater counterparts, which invites mechanical issues. Attempts at resolving these matters can get very expensive, or even worse, fail entirely.
Today's discovery is clearly great for the partners involved, but it's also good for Rowan Companies