Offshore's survey of deepwater discoveries (1,000 ft of water or more) in the Gulf of Mexico for 2002 includes 174 fields in water depths ranging from ChevronTexaco's Prosperity field in 1,000 ft to Unocal's Trident field in 9,687 ft. Twelve fields were added to the deepwater discovery list this year.
Field status ranges from appraisal to declared commercial to planning to development to producing. Fourteen fields were reported to have begun production in 2002.
The year that a field went onstream has been added to the survey when that information was available. In addition, the survey includes proven plus probable figures to indicate the economically recoverable reserves that will probably be recovered over the life of the field. Infield Systems Ltd. supplied these numbers, and other proven reserves are from the MMS web site. Operators provided the remainder of the reserves data.
According to Infield, 4.3 Bboe reserves were expected to be found in the deepwater Gulf between 1998 and 2002. Infield projects that the deepwater GoM will turn up 9.9 Bboe reserves between 2003 and 2007.
The reserves already under production or in the planning stages have generated a variety of development systems.
Douglas-Westwood calls the US Gulf of Mexico the most diverse deepwater region in terms of the development solutions adopted and the range of operators present. Deepwater activity in the region has clearly recovered from the effects of the oil-price collapse of the late 1990s, and D-W expects it to continue to grow over the coming five years. D-W forecasts the capital expenditure associated with deepwater developments over the 2003-2007 period at just under $18.4 billion. Drilling expenditures totaling $7.3 billion and platforms investments of almost $6 billion will dominate this spend. Average annual capex over this period is projected at $3.7 billion, up from an estimated $2.4 billion over the previous five-year period. There is, however, a very pronounced peak in 2003 when eight FPSs are due to be installed as well as 17 deepwater pipelines including the Proteus and the Caesar and Cleopatra gathering systems.
The Gulf's deepwater offshore career star-ted in the late 1970s. Shell's Mississippi Can-yon block 194 Cognac discovery in 1,025 ft water depth in 1975 went onstream in 1979. Within the decade, the oil industry more than doubled the water depth it was working in. By 2010, Infield forecasts that average working water depth will be 3,492 ft with a maximum operating depth of 9,689 ft. Companies are busily developing technology for working in depths beyond 10,000 ft.