* Service cos. see higher Gulf activity in 2012
* First oil seen next year
* Discovery high-quality-exec
HOUSTON, Dec 1 Anadarko Petroleum Corp
has made a natural gas discovery at its Cheyenne East prospect
in the Gulf of Mexico, an executive told investors on
The first well Anadarko drilled since the U.S. government's
moratorium was lifted was a discovery with "50 foot of
high-quality gas pay," Chuck Meloy, Anadarko's senior vice
president of worldwide operations, told the Jefferies energy
First production is expected next year, Meloy said.
Announcement of Anadarko's discovery comes as there is
growing optimism from companies about a return to more normal
levels of drilling in the Gulf of Mexico following BP Plc's 2010 oil spill disaster that halted deepwater operations
for nine months.
Superior Energy Services Inc CEO David Dunlap said
he expects Gulf of Mexico drilling to return, before the end of
next year, to levels about two-thirds of those prior to the
Macondo well blow-out.
"The international arena and the Gulf of Mexico are really
poised to give us some upside if it comes to fruition," Pete
Miller, chief executive officer of oilfield services firm told
The process of obtaining permits to drill is still very
slow, oil executives at the Jefferies conference cautioned, but
progress is being made.
Shares of Anadarko fell nearly 1 percent to $80.68 in
midday New York Stock Exchange trading, in line with a 1
percent drop in the CBOE index of oil .