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Recent Offshore Discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico

Gulf Of Mexico & Its Continental Margins

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Gulf Of Mexico & Its Continental Margins

Gulf Of Mexico & Its Continental Margins


The rise of recent offshore discoveries highlight why operators are focusing on the Gulf of Mexico recently for their offshore wells and rigs. As of January 2018, the Gulf of Mexico has 175 offshore rigs – second to the North Sea which has 184 offshore rigs.

Hydrocarbon exploration in the Gulf started in 1847, where the first well produced over 600 bopd of oil. Since then, exploration and production has increased dramatically as companies moved towards offshore and away from the coast. The advancements in platform and drilling technology such as 3D seismic technology, helped companies reach deeper waters and locate commercial fields that they were unable to be spotted before.

The Gulf of Mexico is an ocean basin and connected to part of the Atlantic Ocean through the Florida Straits. It is between the US and Cuba, and with the Caribbean Sea between Mexico and Cuba. In other words, the basin countries include US, Mexico and Cuba.

The Gulf faced a deep water exploration boom in the late 1990s, where the OCS Deep Water Royalty Relief Act of 1995 provided incentives for operators to develop fields in water depths greater than 200m and had a significant impact on deep water activities. It led to a huge expansion for the industry, with oil production from deep water rose over 840% in the last decade, and deep water gas production increased about 1,600% during the same period.

Since then, the Gulf of Mexico has been a rising hotspot for hydrocarbon exploration. WoodMac reported that after four years of steady decline, exploration activity in the Gulf is expected to increase in 2019 by 30%. Big oil companies such as Shell and Chevron will lead the way, but the actual growth in exploration will come from new entrants –  Murphy Oil Corp, Byron Energy Ltd and Talos Energy LLC.


Here are the top 12 recent Gulf of Mexico discoveries:

Prospect, Field, BlockWellFt. of net pay/productionOperatorDepth (ft)
Samurai, Green Canyon Block 4322OCS G32504150 ft of net pay (two Miocene zones)Murphy Oil Corp.Drilling
32,000 ft
Mississippi Canyon Block 6121 (BP) OCS G33166800 ft of net pay (Norphlet)Shell Oil Co.Drilling 29,600
Water: 7,300
South March Island Block 711-F OCS G34266
2-F OCS G34266
4 Mbbl of oil/d (combined from Pliocene sands)Byron Energy Ltd.n/a
Ballymore, MIssissippi Canyon Block 6071(ST) OCS G3451607 ft of net pay (Miocene)Chevron Corp.Drilling: 29,194
Water 6,600
South Marsh Island Block 713-F OCSG34266211 net ft of oil payByron Energy Ltd.Water: n/a
Drilling: 8,615
Whale, Alamonos Canyon Block 7721(BP) OCS G351531,400 net ft of oil-bearing payShell Oil Co.Water: n/a
Drilling: 22,948
Pompano platform, Mississippi Canyon Block 284 OCS G09771153 ft of net oil payStone Energy Corp.Water: n/a
Drilling: 12,176
Tornado, Green Canyon Block 2812SS (ST) OCSG3342 12.35 Mboe/d (83% oil)Talos Energy LLCWater: 2,750
Drilling: 21,057 (tvd)
Ship Shoal Block 3005-B (ST) OCS G07760173 ft of hydorcarbon pay with peak flow of 1.1 Mboe/dW&T OffshoreWater: n/a
Drilling: 5,772
Tornado, Green Canyon Block 2812SS (ST) OCS G33242297 net ft of oil payTalos Energy LLCn/a
Rampart Deep, Mississippi Canyon Block 1171 OCS G32299130 ft of liquids-rich payDeep Gulf Energy Co.Water: 2,700
Drilling: n/a
Constellation, Green Canyon Block 6273SS OCS G25174120 ft of net payAnadarko Petroleum Corp.Water: 4,400
Drilling: n/a

Data source: IHS Markit. Compiled by Larry Prado (Hart Energy)


The Gulf of Mexico and its Continental Margins is a 3-day training course held on 23-25 September 2019 where the course presents a state-of-the-art assessment of what we know and don’t know in terms of basin evolution, and highlights some of the problematic issues facing hydrocarbon exploration in the Gulf of Mexico. Materials are from the trainer’s own history of industrially-funded research consortia programs and interpretation for ION Geophysical. A series of exercises complements the lectures to form a well-rounded, three-day examination of the western hemisphere’s most important oil province. The course is also an excellent example of the application of plate tectonics in the understanding of basin history.



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