A. D. Koen Senior Editor-News Independent companies are driving rebounding drilling and development activity in the Gulf of Mexico. A window of opportunity for independents--cracked open in the late 1980s when major integrated companies began to pursue larger prospects outside the U.S.--is opening wider because of stronger U.S. natural gas prices. At the same time, evolving geophysical technology and savvy logistical tactics are reducing the upfront investment dollars needed to bring offshore wells on line and shortening project development timetables. In addition, the Gulf of Mexico's vast infrastructure of pipelines and...

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