A Retrospective of Oil and Gas Field Development in the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf Gulf of Mexico, 1947–2017

Research paper by Mark J. Kaiser, Siddhartha Narra

Indexed on: 04 Oct '18Published on: 03 Oct '18Published in: Natural Resources Research


The U.S. Gulf of Mexico is a world-class hydrocarbon basin and industry has an impressive track record of advancing its capabilities in the region. From 1947 to 2017, the U.S. Gulf of Mexico has produced over 52 billion barrels oil equivalent in federal waters, 20.7 billion barrels of oil and 187 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Remaining reserves are estimated at 4.8 billion barrels oil equivalent, 80% of which reside in deep water greater than 400 ft. Undiscovered technically and economically recoverable resources are estimated at 74 billion barrels oil equivalent mean potential, 85% of which are estimated to reside in deep water. In this retrospective of exploration and production in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, a statistical and trend analysis of field counts, sizes and distributions are presented followed by exploration and development drilling activity. Field discovery rates, play types, and reserves are summarized along with a description of the geology of the shallow water and deep water U.S. Gulf of Mexico and remarks on reserves growth. Every decade or so, a new concept, play type or technology has emerged in the region, and most resource potential occurs in areas requiring technical advancement.