MMS Reports Deepwater Holds Most Potential

In a new report, the Minerals Management Service has updated its Gulf of Mexico forecast for daily oil and gas production, predicting that between now and 2005, gas production will be 11.10 Bcf/d to 16.54 Bcf/d and oil production will be 1.526 MMbbl/d to 1.967 MMbbl/d. The greatest potential for development, said the federal agency, is in deepwater of 1,000 feet or more.

MMS reported that oil production has been "rising steadily" in the Gulf, up to 1.426 MMbbl/d in 2000, from 945,000 bbl/d in 1995, surpassing shallow-water oil production for the first time. "According to these forecasts, as much as 67% of daily oil production in the Gulf and 26% of daily gas production will come from the deepwater Gulf of Mexico," MMS reported.

The oil and gas industry also set a new world record for water depth in drilling, and the number of rigs drilling in deepwater has risen to a record high of 45.

According to MMS, Union Oil Co. set the record with an exploration well drilled in 9,743 feet of water. The well is in the Alaminos Canyon Block 903, less than four miles form the U.S.-Mexico boundary line. Drilling began there May 2.

The agency also reported that 45 rigs are working in water 1,000 feet deep or more.

"The oil and gas industry has achieved an all-time high level of activity in the Gulf," said Chris Oynes, regional director of the MMS Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf region. "These new developments are an encouraging sign that we are making progress toward meeting America's energy needs in the coming years."

Oynes noted that since January 2000, MMS has seen a 73% increase in the number of rigs drilling the deepwater, up from 26. "A record 225 wells were drilled in the deepwater Gulf in 2000." He said that the wells drilled in ultra-deepwater, defined as 5,000 feet or more, "continues to grow significantly," with 10 wells currently being drilled in 5,000-plus water depths.

The report, Daily Oil and Gas Production Rate Projections, is available from the web site at www.gomr.mms.gov for no charge. Copies also may be ordered by calling (800) 200-GULF or faxing a request to (504) 736-2620. Information about the deepwater activity also is available on the MMS web site.

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