MMS Calls For 'Robust' Gulf Drilling
If the Minerals Management Service (MMS) is correct, the Gulf of
Mexico has a growing role to play in meeting the nation's demand
for natural gas. The agency presented results of a study evaluating
the role of the federal Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) in supplying
future U.S. gas demand at a symposium held in Houston last week.
Predictions by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)
and the National Petroleum Council indicate U.S. gas demand could
reach 30 Tcf by 2010. The 1998 gas production, including synthetic
gas, in the U.S. was only 19 Tcf. About 3 Tcf of imports from
Canada and a minuscule LNG import (0.1 Tcf) met gas demand for that
year, MMS said. Planners are concerned about where the additional
11 Tcf of supply is to come from.
At present, more than a quarter of the nation's gas production
comes from the OCS, primarily the Gulf of Mexico (GOM). Most comes
from the Continental Shelf (from less than 200 meters of water).
However, production from the slope and deeper water is steadily
increasing. Concerns have been expressed that the production
decline rate, which has been cited as high as 50% for the Shelf,
may significantly reduce production from the GOM. An analysis of
production data for the last ten years dispels that notion, MMS
While production rates from earlier completions have declined
significantly, higher production from newer completions offsets any
decline. The per-completion production rate for non-associated gas
has remained steady at around 1Bcf per completion, and the
production rate of the associated gas has increased steadily during
the last 10 years from about 0.11 MMcf to about 0.16 MMcf per
More than 75% of total GOM monthly production comes from
completions that are 4 years old or younger. To sustain or increase
production, a robust drilling and completion rate needs to be
maintained. The present gas and oil price and the availability of
good prospects ensure such an activity, MMS said. The agency
speculated gas production from the Gulf may grow from 5.1 Tcf/year
to a maximum of 6.7 Tcf by 2012.
Joe Fisher, Houston
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