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GOM Oil and Gas Discoveries Go Deep, With Facilities to Match

With 54% of the natural gas and 82% of the oil production in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) coming from wells drilled in 1,000 feet (305 meters) of water or more, offshore operators are honing their techniques in the deepwater, according to an analysis by the Department of Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).

BOEM's Mike Celata, regional director of the GOM office, presented Interior's new report at the Deepwater Technology Symposium in New Orleans, detailing deepwater oil and gas activities from 2009 through December 2014. The report precedes BOEM's next GOM lease sale scheduled for Wednesday (Aug. 24) and the first to be broadcast on the internet (see Daily GPIJuly 25).

"The Gulf of Mexico has proven to be one of the world's most prolific hydrocarbon basins and is the primary offshore source of hydrocarbons for the United States," Celata said. The federal Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) "supplies the nation with approximately 97% of all offshore oil and natural gas production. Of both onshore and offshore domestic production in 2014, the Gulf supplied the nation with 16% of the total oil and 4.5% of the total gas."

The 99-page publication marks BOEM's 10th report highlighting activities and the first specifically about the GOM deepwater since 2009.

"A decline in active leases in shallow water starting from 2004 to 2005 has been continuous, as opposed to the number of active leases in deepwater, which has remained between 3,500 and 4,500 for the last 15 years," according to the report written by Lesley Nixon, Eric Kazanis and Shawn Alonso. "Specifically for 2014, the total number of active leases for all water-depth categories was 5,303, of which 3,826 (72%) were located in water depths of 1,000 feet or greater. The greatest number of active leases in deepwater are located in water depths of 2,500 to 4,999 feet."

The systematic compilation includes information and statistics about deepwater activities, from leasing through production since 2009. Included are graphics on leasing, seismic data, well data, geology, reserves and resources, as well as production for the deepwater portion of the GOM through the end of 2014.

Since the last deepwater report, the GOM has witnessed a plethora of discoveries -- and tragedy, BOEM said. The worst offshore tragedy ever, BP plc's Macondo well blowout in 2010, killed 11 men and caused oil to flow for 87 days before the well was sealed. Since the blowout, more stringent offshore regulations have been adopted.

BOEM also highlighted many of the successes. In 2010, the Telemark Hub, the first floating, drilling and production triple column spar structure, was installed in Mississippi Canyon Block 941 in 4,050 feet of water (see Daily GPISept. 20, 2015). One year later, the first floating, production, storage and offloading facility was installed in Walker Ridge (WR) Block 249 in 8,300 feet of water, claiming the water-depth record for a GOM production facility (see Daily GPIMarch 5, 2012May 5, 2008). And in 2014, the largest semisubmersible based on displacement was installed at WR Block 718 in 6,950 feet of water to host output from the Jack and St. Malo fields (see Daily GPIDec. 3, 2014).

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