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Deepwater Gulf of Mexico - America's Expanding Frontier
SOURCE: U.S. Department of the Interior, Minerals Management Service, Gulf of Mexico OCS Region






EXPLORATION ACTIVITY

Modern seismic data often generate new ideas leading to surges in leasing and drilling activities.

Exploration drilling in the deepwater GOM in 2002 and 2003 has found over 2 billion BOE.

Traditional deepwater mini-basin plays are still providing many exploration opportunities (consider the Thunder Horse and North Thunder Horse discoveries in southern Mississippi Canyon), but recent discoveries in new deepwater plays continue to expand the exploration potential of the deepwater GOM.

Figure 5 illustrates the fact that 99 percent of total GOM production is from Neogene-age reservoirs (Pleistocene, Pliocene, and Miocene); however, several recently announced deepwater discoveries encountered large potential reservoirs in sands of Paleogene age (Oligocene, Eocene, and Paleocene).

Figure 5. Stratigraphic chart highlighting new play potential.
Figure 5. Stratigraphic chart highlighting new play potential.

This older portion of the geologic section has been very lightly tested in the GOM and the discovery of reservoirs of this geologic age may open wide areas of the GOM to further drilling.

Figure 6 illustrates two frontier deepwater plays in the GOM, the Mississippi Fan Foldbelt and the Perdido Foldbelt, which include reservoirs of Paleogene age.

Figure 6. Frontier plays in the deepwater GOM.
Figure 6. Frontier plays in the deepwater GOM.

Announced discoveries in the Alaminos Canyon area (Trident and Great White) and in the Walker Ridge area (St. Malo, Cascade, and Chinook) provide evidence of productive Paleogene reservoirs in a wide area of the deepwater GOM. However, many important questions remain concerning the extent and producibility of these older reservoirs.

Figure 6 also shows a composite outline of numerous plays in the Eastern GOM; these range in age from Pleistocene through Jurassic. Successful exploration has occurred in the Eastern GOM with announced discoveries in DeSoto Canyon (Spiderman/Amazon), in Lloyd Ridge (Atlas), and in Atwater Valley (Jubilee).

Although not a geologic play, the ultra-deepwater areas of the GOM can also be considered “frontier territory.” During the last three years there have been 11 industry-announced discoveries in water depths greater than 7,000 ft (2,134 m) (table 1). Announced volumes for these discoveries are more than 1.75 billion BOE.

Table 1
List of Deepwater Discoveries in Water Depths Greater than 7,000 ft (2,134 m)

Table 1 - List of Deepwater Discoveries in Water Depths Greater than 7,000 ft (2,134 m)



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Cover and Title Page

PREFACE

INTRODUCTION

BACKGROUND

LEASING DRILLING AND DEVELOPMENT RESERVES AND PRODUCTION SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS . . . Feedback