Exxon Starting Development of $4 Billion Gulf of Mexico Field

May 7 (Bloomberg) -- Exxon Mobil Corp., the largest U.S. oil company, said it will invest more than $4 billion in the development of its Julia oil field in the Gulf of Mexico.

Oil production is expected to start in 2016 from the field, which was discovered in 2007, Irving, Texas-based Exxon said in a statement today. The resource in place is estimated to be almost 6 billion barrels, Exxon said.

The Julia unit was the subject of a 2011 Exxon lawsuit against the U.S. over the government’s decision to cancel the offshore leases because Exxon hadn’t proceeded quickly enough with development. The litigation was later settled, allowing the company “to develop this very large, but technically challenging, resource as quickly as possible using a phased approach,” Patrick McGinn, an Exxon spokesman, said in January 2012.

An initial phase of the project is designed for daily output of 34,000 barrels of oil, the company said in today’s statement. It will have tie-backs to a production facility operated by Chevron Corp. Exxon and Statoil ASA both have a 50 percent stake in the Julia unit.

“Julia is one of the first large oil discoveries in the ultra-deepwater frontier of the Gulf of Mexico,” Neil Duffin, president of Exxon’s development company, said in the statement. “This resource is located more than 30,000 feet below the ocean’s surface. Enhanced technologies will be deployed to ensure the safe and environmentally responsible development of this important energy resource.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Edward Klump in Houston at eklump@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan Warren at susanwarren@bloomberg.net