Gulf of Mexico summary report: outer continental shelf oil and gas activities in the Gulf of Mexico and their onshore impacts.
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For the near future, the Gulf of Mexico will remain the most developed Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) region in the United States and the world. Virtually all produciton from the U.S. OCS emanates from the Gulf of Mexico. In calendar year 1982, for the two primary categories of hydrocarbons produced from the U.S. OCS (oil/condensate and gas), Gulf production accounted for over 90 and 99 percent, respectively. Gulf OCS iol production for 1982 was 290 million barrels (46 million m3), and gas produciton was 4.66 trillion cubis feet (130 billion m3). Although most of the shallow-water areas of the Gulf of Mexico Continental Shelf have been explored, considerable amounts of hydrocarbons may yet be discovered in deepwater locations or in deeper pay zones in shallower water. Industry has been developing the technology to explore deepwater areas, and interest in these portions of the Gulf has been increasing. Between December 1981 and December 1982, the total of all identified oil and gas fields in the Gulf of Mexico OCS had increased from 505 to 537. This net increase of 32 fields discovered in 1982 compares to net increases of 23 in 1981, 50 in 1980, 51 in 1979, and 25 in 1978. The number of active fields increased from 489 in 1981 to 521 in 1982, and fields for which reserve estimates have been made increased from 445 to 468. As of April, 1983, 20,760 offshore oil and gas wells had been drilled in the Gulf of Mexico OCS, most of them (18,260) off the coast of Louisiana. There were 2,119 active oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico, of which 1,291 are producing leases. The Department of the Interior's July 982 final 5-year OCS oil and gas leasing schedule projects one th three Gulf of Mexico lease sales or offerings per year through 1987, for a total of 12. In 1982, the Gulf was divided into three administrative planning areas. Resource estimates issued for the following Gulf of Mexico lease sales and offerings are as follows: Lease Sale 69 (Parts 1 and 2)- 48.24 million barrels (7.67 million m3) of oil and 785 billion cubic feet (22 billion m3) of gas; Central Gulf of Mexico Lease Offering (May 1983)-97 million barrels (15.4 million m3) of oil and 1.04 trillion cubic feet (29 billion m3) of gas; Western Gulf of Mexico Lease Offering (August 1983)- 29 million barrels (4.6 million m3) of oil and 525 billion cubic feet (15 billion m3) of gas; Eastern Gulf of Mexico Lease Offering (November 1983)- 123 million barrels (19.5 million m3) of oil and 157 billion cubic feet (4 billion m3) of gas. From 1972 to 1980, oil production in the Gulf of Mexico declined each year, and gas production, thought to have reached its peak in 1981, is now expected to begin a noticeable decline. The anomaly of Gulf crude produciton rises during 1981 and 1982 may be attributable to a variety of forces, including higher prices available to operators, during those years. Gas production declines, in the near term, are likely to be augmented by the current domestic natural gas surplus. To date, most of the oil and gas discoveroes in the Gulf have occurred on the Texas-Louisiana Shelf, but in the future, oil and gas exploration is likely to include a number of areas where previous leasing has not been extensive. The Mississipi-Alabama Shelf, especially the area to Mobile Bay and the deepwater areas along the shelf-slope break southeast of the Mississippi River Delta, are potential areas for future exploration. Additionally, smaller fields will become more economically producible according to market conditions, and implementation of secondary and tertiary recovery techniques will make it possible to extract more oil and gas from reservoirs than was previously possible. Each year, hundreds of miles of pipelines are added to the existing network in the Gulf of Mexico. There have been several proposals for deepwater ports and transshipment terminals, as well as for projects that would deepen or widen conventional ports. Many of these projects, however, have been put on hold or cancelled due to altered market conditions. The process of transportation planning in the Gulf of Mexico is carried out by industry and government through the Gulf of Mexico Regional Technical Working Group. The Gulf Coast region is an area of significant onshore oil and gas activity, with many cities and towns offering a wide range of services and supplies to onshore and offshore oil operators and their ancillary industries. While oil and gas support infrastructure is quite extensive and complex in the Western and Central Gulf, the support facilities of the Eastern Gulf are still in the early stages of development. In the likely event of a decline in Gulf OCS produciton, increased levels of imported and domestically transshipped oil may be substituted for dwindling stocks at Gulf Coast refineries. Planners should consider impacts generated by changes inoil and gas productivity and focus on finding alternative uses for facilities and alternative employment for workers.