The Minerals Management Service (MMS) has released the biannual report,Deepwater Gulf of Mexico 2004: America's Expanding Frontier. MMS Director Johnnie Burton announced the release at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston. The report details the deepwater GoM activity growth in the last 12 years. "I don't think 6-10 years ago anyone foresaw what's happening in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico," Burton said.
The report examines the technology of deepwater oil and gas exploration and production, including floating platforms and seafloor installations. It looks at the process and history of oil and gas leasing, unconventional resources such as hydrates and ocean current monitoring. One of the major issues addressed include loop currents at various depths. "It is a safety issue that impacts deepwater structures and rigs," Burton said.
The section devoted to reserves and production discusses recent finds, estimates of recoverable petroleum hydrates in the deepwater Gulf, and deepwater production from various companies.
"The Deepwater Gulf of Mexico continues to be an expanding frontier," Burton said. She pointed to the 90 deepwater projects on production at the end of 2003, a 48% increase in the past two years. Production from the deepwater frontier grew 959,000 b/d and 3.6 bcf/d at the end of 2002. Deepwater oil production accounted for 61% of the Gulf's oil production in 2002. In the last three years, there have been 11 discoveries announced in 7,000 ft of water or more.
"Production from spars is one of the newest trends," Burton said, "eight of which were on production at the end of 2003 and three more are scheduled to begin production in 2004." The report examines spars, truss spars, and Kerr-McGee's cell spar, which is scheduled for installation later this year. In addition, mini-TLPs have entered the GoM, with the SeaStar and the MOSES. Subsea production has expanded from 1,462 ft of water with Placid Oil Co.'s Green Canyon block 29 project in 1988 to Shell and BP's Coulmb/Na Kika project that will establish subsea production in 7,591 ft of water in 2004.
The report also makes future projections, expecting a continuing increase in production, anticipating new field developments based on recent discoveries, predicting future deepwater discoveries, decreasing time between leasing and production, and evaluating the thousands of deepwater leases before their terms expire, given the limited number of deepwater rigs available.