NEW YORK – ExxonMobil Corp. disclosed details Wednesday of an oil and gas field that could prove to be one of the largest discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico in recent years.

The oil giant said three discoveries at its exploration project 250 miles southwest of New Orleans have the combined potential for more than 700 million barrels of recoverable oil and gas equivalent.

Argus Research analyst Phil Weiss said he couldn’t recall a discovery reported recently that was on that scale.

He noted that there are some deep-water wells of significant size in the region, including Chevron Corp.’s Tahiti project with an estimated total recoverable resources of 400 million to 500 million barrels of oil and gas equivalent.

BP has a stake in a number of wells such as the Tiber project which is expected to be one of the largest discoveries in the U.S. Weiss said BP hasn’t announced how much it will be able to recover yet.

BP also operates Thunder Horse, a deep-water well designed to process 250,000 barrels of oil per day.

Exxon’s announcement makes it the first company to discover oil from a new deep-water well in the Gulf of Mexico since last year’s massive oil spill.

Exxon said plans to drill last year were halted after the U.S. imposed a temporary ban on deep-water drilling because of the devastating oil spill in the Gulf south of Louisiana.