MMS: Deepwater Success Improves Resource Outlook

Success in deepwater exploration in the Gulf of Mexico improved the outlook for both oil and natural gas resources, according to an updated report by the Minerals Management Service. The 2000 MMS resource assessment now indicates that there is a 65% increase in conventional recoverable oil reserves and a 35% increase in natural gas on the outer continental shelf.

MMS, which conducted its last assessment in 1995, uses the measurements to manage its offshore program. In the past five years, "there has been remarkable activity in deepwater areas," said MMS director Walt Rosenbusch.

MMS determines oil and natural gas resource estimates for two categories: undiscovered conventionally recoverable resources and undiscovered economically recoverable resources. Geophysical, technological and economic conditions all are considered in the assessment.

Undiscovered conventionally recoverable resources represent the potential hydrocarbons of an area that can be produced using current technology, and do not consider economic feasibility. However, the undiscovered economically recoverable resources represent the portion of the undiscovered conventionally recoverable hydrocarbons that can be explored, developed and commercially produced at given costs and price considerations using current or "reasonably foreseeable technology."

Total OCS estimates for conventionally recoverable resources now stand at 75 bbl and 362.2 Tcf. By area, they are Alaska, 24.9 bbl and 122.6 Tcf; Atlantic, 2.3 bbl and 28 Tcf; Gulf of Mexico, 37.1 bbl and 192.7 Tcf; Pacific, 10.7 bbl and 18.9 Tcf.

The OCS totals for economically recoverable resources, using an estimate of $18 per bbl and $2.11 Mcf now stand at 26.6 bbl and 116.8 Tcf. By area, they are Alaska, 3.3 bbl and 1.6 Tcf; Atlantic, 0.5 bbl and 6.6 Tcf; Gulf of Mexico, 17.5 bbl and 100.3 Tcf; and Pacific, 5.3 bbl and 8.3 Tcf.

Carolyn Davis, Houston

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