MMS sees larger gulf, Atlantic gas resource

By OGJ editors

HOUSTON, Jan. 19 -- The volume of undiscovered but technically recoverable natural gas on the US Outer Continental Shelf is 12% higher as of late 2004 than it was when last assessed in 2000, said the US Minerals Management Service.

Almost all of the increase applies to the Gulf of Mexico. The MMS issued the selective update at the end of 2004 in advance of an assessment of the entire US OCS due out in mid-2005.

The interim estimate is that all federal offshore areas contain a mean 76 billion bbl and 406.1 tcf of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas. The oil estimate is 1% higher than in the 2000 assessment.

The interim totals take into account 2 billion bbl of oil and 8 tcf of gas that were discovered and moved to the reserves category since 2000.

The numbers represent the potential hydrocarbons that can be produced using current technology without any consideration of economics, the agency said. It described current technology as the ability to drill to 31,700 ft in more than 10,000 ft of water.

MMS said it issued the interim estimate in response to important changes in the assessments of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico OCS areas.

The Atlantic interim assessments are a mean 3.5 billion bbl of oil and 33.3 tcf of gas, up 52% and 19%, respectively, from the 2000 assessment. The gains in US Atlantic waters resulted because "significant new knowledge and information was gained as a result of recent drilling in the Scotian basin offshore Canada," MMS said.

"Applying this new information led to adjustments to risks applied to previous defined plays, and to the definition of new plays," the agency said.

Gulf of Mexico gas resources climbed more than 20% to a mean 232.5 tcf while oil resources were flat at 36.9 billion bbl. The gas increase "is attributed primarily to plays in the deep shelf areas of the Central and Western Gulf of Mexico, and to the Eastern Gulf of Mexico," MMS said.

"Results of new drilling and discoveries led to revisions of plays and their associated risks that significantly increased gas resources," MMS said. "This is especially true for conceptual plays where valuable insights into the presence of source rock, maturation, migration, trapping, and reservoir facies were gained."

MMS assessed the Alaska OCS at a mean 25.1 billion bbl of oil and 122.1 tcf of gas, and the Pacific OCS at 10.5 billion bbl and 18.2 tcf.

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