Enverus Gulf of Mexico oil production data, analysis and forecasts. Includes latest info on GOM oil wells, leases, offshore blocks and rig counts. Enverus Prism analysis and forecasting software solutions provide essential information and insights for oil and gas operators, oilfield services suppliers, financiers and energy traders.
Gulf of Mexico oil production has been challenging but steady over the years. With its excellent drilling history, successful oil wells and an expanding rig count, the GOM Basin is one of the richest historical hydrocarbon basins in the United States. The geographic region starts along the northeastern coast of Mexico, extending to the western coast of Florida and out to the U.S. maritime border with Mexico. Exploration and initial oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico began in the 1930s. And as technology advanced, Gulf of Mexico oil production extended further away from the shores into deeper waters. Despite its maturity, the GOM continues to yield new offshore blocks, oil leases, productive wells and a high rig count. Petroleum exploration and production opportunities abound for all operator groups, from supermajors to small-cap independents to privates.
For info about oil exploration and production beyond the Gulf of Mexico, visit our Global Oil and Gas Data page.
Enverus divides the Gulf of Mexico basin into four distinct plays by water depth: shelf (<350ft), mid-water (350-2250ft), deepwater (2250-4750ft), and ultra-deepwater (<4750ft). These separations are based on the different types of offshore drilling rigs needed in each environment (Figure 1).
FIGURE 1 | Map of U.S. Gulf of Mexico Oil Production Areas
FIGURE 2 | Historical Oil Production in U.S. Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico shelf/shallow-water play has historically had the most exposure, oil leases and drilling activity. These offshore blocks are the most accessible and the least risky in terms of oil extraction and transportation. GOM oil production has shifted away from the gassier shelf to the deeper, oilier plays (Figure 2). In the 1970s and 80s, oil rig technology only allowed for shallow-water drilling; but today, the deepest offshore blocks hold the most productive oil wells and Gulf of Mexico oil leases in the U.S. Advances in drilling and seismic technology have allowed for more sophisticated crude oil and natural gas exploration and production techniques. These sometimes include finding and developing reservoirs below 20,000 feet of salt.
While Gulf of Mexico oil production has slightly declined from its peak in 2019 due to the global pandemic, the area is still an appealing region for operators. GOM oil wells, lease owners and rig operators have recently prioritized short-cycle and low-cost recompletions, infills and tiebacks to weather market uncertainty. There have been nearly 90,000 offshore wells drilled in the GOM to date. The basin recently averaged ~40 Gulf of Mexico oil wells per quarter (Figure 3) and rig count increase to 20 – (Figure 4).
FIGURE 3 | Wells Spud Through Time in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico
FIGURE 4 | Offshore Oil Rigs Through Time in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico Oil Production Area
As oil production from Gulf of Mexico basin wells reaches maturity, operators continue to seek developments in deeper reservoirs. Often with harsher water and subsurface conditions that make drilling oil wells more difficult. Deepwater operators had seen an uptick of new discoveries of potential ILX opportunities. And previously deemed unattractive oil production prospects coming back into the economic window as more infrastructure is built in the basin. Recently, the GOM basin has witnessed an influx of supermajors prioritizing deepwater acreage over other global options, primarily due to ample exploration and oil leases yet to have been used and low-carbon intensities in the basin. In terms of oil and gas production (Figure 5) and oil lease offshore blocks acreage (Figure 6), some of the biggest names in the basin include RDSA, BP, XOM, CVX and OXY.
FIGURE 5 | Gulf of Mexico Operators Ranked by Total Trailing 12-Month Oil Production
FIGURE 6 | Net Acreage by Operator
While COVID-19 impacted activity in the basin, there are numerous ongoing exploration wells and Gufl of Mexico oil production projects. One of the biggest is Atlantis (Figure 7). First discovered in 1998, the find spurred a flurry of sub-salt Miocene exploration activity in the Green Canyon area which has since become a primary region for the basin. Atlantis oil wells have been onstream since June 2006, with oil rigs producing on average ~100 Mboe per day since, with the operators recently bringing on Phase 3.
Saint Malo is another major project in the GOM region. Operated by Chevron and producing from Lower Tertiary (Wilcox) tight sandstone reservoirs, it is in the Walker Ridge area. Santo Malo first came onstream in 2012 and has produced steadily since then. Our expert analysis predicts that ~150 MMboe of oil has been recovered so far, with ~350 MMboe remaining (Figure 8).
The GOM offers a wide range of project economics based on the size of the resources being developed and the type of project. Standalone projects typically have higher breakeven prices than tiebacks or infill oil drilling because of the need to build a rig platform. On a three-quarter cycle basis, inclusive of infrastructure costs, the deepwater Gulf of Mexico oil wells offer oil leases, drilling and production economics that are competitive with North American shale plays (Figure 9).
FIGURE 7 | Deepwater Drilling Platforms Ranked by Cumulative GOM Oil Production
FIGURE 8 | Crude Oil Production Forecast and Activity of the Saint Malo Field
FIGURE 9 | FIGURE 9 | Economics of the Gulf of Mexico Compared to Other Basins
Over the past five years, operators have increasingly shifted activity to tieback developments. These developments are one form of ILX that utilize the abundance of excess platform capacity in the GOM to generate attractive economics (Figure 10). Building a new platform or floating production, storage and offloading facility is very costly, usually in the billions of dollars. We have observed an increasing share of new Gulf of Mexico drilling and new blocks purchased near existing infrastructure, a trend consistent with ILX development.
*Figure 1 from Land and Expand report (https://intelligence.enverus.com/research/33206)
Interestingly, the GOM’s Scope 1 carbon emission intensities are the lowest of any basin in the U.S. and are competitive on a global scale (Figure 11). Enforced by strict ESG regulations in the region and availability of ample infrastructure, the GOM is still a competitive choice for international oil companies searching for new, low-carbon acreage that can be developed. The lease of Sale 257 that took place Nov. 17, 2021, garnered $192 million in winning bids and was largely dominated by supermajors who are leading the energy transition. The continuous development and investment from supermajors highlight the strong sustained competition for acreage in the basin, despite further commitments to reduce oil production and carbon emissions.
For more details, follow our blog posts: https://www.enverus.com/blog/supermajors-pile-into-low-carbon-gom-acreage/
FIGURE 10 | GOM Mid/Deepwater Total Platform Capacity Utilization
FIGURE 11 | North America GHG Emission Intensity by Major Regions
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