Updating its estimates for undiscovered technically recoverable resources (UTTR) underlying offshore waters on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), the Minerals Management Service (MMS) said last week that new exploration activities in the Gulf of Mexico and in the Scotian Basin offshore Canada have revealed that there is 12% more recoverable gas than estimated in 2000. The MMS now estimates that there are 76 billion barrels of oil and 406.1 Tcf of recoverable natural gas in federal offshore areas.

In an interim update, the government agency noted that while the overall estimate for oil resources remained about the same as the 2000 assessment, the estimate for natural gas increased about 12% from its 2000 number. The MMS attributed approximately 91% of the increase in the natural gas estimate to new information obtained from recent exploration activities in the Gulf of Mexico.

The MMS estimates represent the potential hydrocarbons of an area that can be produced using current technology, without any consideration to economic feasibility. The current technology qualification includes drilling in water in excess of 3,000 meters (10,000 feet) deep and to depths in excess of 9,600 meters (31,700 feet).

MMS said it conducts a comprehensive national assessment of the undiscovered oil and gas resources on the OCS every five years. The last comprehensive national assessment was completed in 2000. “Interim updates to these assessments, such as the one issued [last week], are released in response to significant information obtained from new exploration and development activity, and on occasion to incorporate major improvements in methodology and modeling,” the MMS said.

Breaking down the agency’s data, the Gulf of Mexico OCS has an estimated 232.5 Tcf of UTRR, deemed to be natural gas. The MMS said the Alaska OCS likely has 122.1 Tcf, while the Atlantic OCS and Pacific OCS have UTRR estimates of 33.3 Tcf and 18.2 Tcf, respectively.

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