Oil Companies Push Deeper Into Gulf of Mexico: Report

By Alan Kovski

Aug. 18 — Deepwater oil and natural gas production has far outstripped production from shallow water in the Gulf of Mexico, and companies continue to advance into the deepwater frontier, an Interior Department agency said in a report released Aug. 17.

In 2014, the latest year covered by the report, deepwater wells provided 82 percent of Gulf of Mexico oil production and 54 percent of the gulf's gas production, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said. Deep water was defined as water 1,000 feet in depth or more.

Over the five-year span of 2010-2014, oil and gas production started up at 23 deepwater fields, according to the report, “Deepwater Gulf of Mexico December 31, 2014.”

The top producing project in the Gulf in 2014, as listed by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, was the combined development of the Mars and Ursa fields, operated together from the Olympus platform by Royal Dutch Shell Plc with BP Plc as partner. The project, in more than 3,000 feet of water, produced more than 60 million barrels of oil equivalent during the year from the two fields.

The deepest of the big projects was the Great White field, operated by Shell from the Perdido floating platform in about 8,000 feet of water. It produced more than 29 million barrels of oil equivalent in 2014.

Another notable field was Atlantis, operated by BP with BHP Billiton Ltd. as partner. It produced more than 46 million barrels of oil equivalent in 2014 in water depths listed in the report as 6,285 feet although commonly described by BP as 7,000 feet.

BP also is operator of the Thunder Horse field, in more than 6,000 feet of water, with ExxonMobil Corp. as partner. It produced more than 15 million barrels of oil equivalent in 2014.

The Gulf in 2014 provided 16 percent of U.S. oil production and 4.5 percent of U.S. gas production, according to the report.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alan Kovski in Washington at akovski@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com

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