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.
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.
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
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.
List of Deepwater Discoveries in Water Depths Greater than 7,000 ft (2,134 m)
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Cover and Title Page
DRILLING AND DEVELOPMENT
RESERVES AND PRODUCTION
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
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