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MMS: Record number of rigs now drilling in Gulf of Mexico's ultradeep water

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Mar. 5 -- A record number of drilling rigs—currently a total of 12—are drilling for oil and gas in the ultradeep waters (5,000 ft or deeper) of the Gulf of Mexico, according to the US Minerals Management Service Director Johnnie Burton.

"This is a very important milestone which demonstrates how industry continues to focus on new frontiers," Burton noted.

Deepwater oil and gas development in the gulf continues to be the workhorse of US domestic oil and gas production, Burton said. "The US is now in its 9th year of sustained expansion of domestic oil and gas development in the deepwater area of the Gulf of Mexico, and it shows no sign of diminishment. The resource potential for the nation continues to grow with each new discovery in ultra-deepwater."

Oil production from the deepwater gulf rose 535% during 1995-2002, MMS reported. Gas production, meanwhile, also rose by 620% over those same years. "Production of oil from the gulf now accounts for more than 30% of all US production; for gas it is 23%," MMS said.

MMS pointed out that over the last 3 years, there have been several oil and gas discoveries. Most notably, MMS said, there were five discoveries in 5,000 ft of water or deeper in 2001, three in 2002, and six in 2003.

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