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BP hails giant discovery in Gulf of Mexico

OILmajor BP said yesterday it had made a &ldquo;giant&rdquo; discovery in the Gulf of Mexico, boosting hopes that oil firms can use the region to slash their dependence on the Middle East.<br /><br />The discovery of at least 3bn barrels of oil at the Tiber Prospect site was made after an unprecedented exploration effort, which saw BP drill a well six-and-a-half miles deep at the bottom of a deep region of the Gulf.<br /><br />Shares of the firm rose by 3.3 per cent to 541.65p on the find, as analysts said the find could have a huge impact on BP, while boding well for development of the region as a potential rival to Arab oil giants like Saudi Arabia.<br /><br />The group said further appraisal is needed to ascertain the exact volumes of oil present, but the find is likely to be bigger than its Kaskida discovery, which has at least 3bn barrels of oil.<br /><br />Some estimates have suggested Kaskida contains as much as 6bn barrels.<br /><br />But the group warned it could be many years before it is able to begin extracting oil from the well, adding it hopes to have the site up and running by 2014.<br /><br />BP, the biggest oil producer in the US and biggest leaseholder in the Gulf of Mexico, has a 62 per cent interest in the exploration area while Brazilian state-controlled Petrobras owns 20 per cent and US oil major ConocoPhillips owns 18 per cent.<br /><br />BP head of exploration and production Andy Inglis said: &ldquo;These material discoveries... support the continuing growth of our deepwater Gulf of Mexico business into the second half of the next decade.&rdquo;<br /><br />INGanalyst Jason Kenny said the find bodes well for rival exploration efforts in the area, including Royal Dutch Shell&rsquo;s Great White Field.