MMS: Record Set for UltraDeep Drilling in the Gulf of Mexico

A record number of drilling rigs are currently working in ultra-deepwater in the Gulf of Mexico. "For the first time, 12 rigs are drilling for oil and gas in 5,000 feet of water or greater in the Gulf," MMS Director Johnnie Burton reported. "This is a very important milestone which demonstrates how industry continues to focus on new frontiers."

Deepwater oil and gas development in the Gulf continues to be the workhorse of U.S. domestic oil and gas production. "The U.S. is now in its ninth 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," Burton said. "The resource potential for the nation continues to grow with each new discovery in ultra-deepwater."

Deepwater oil production rose 535 percent between 1995 and 2002. Deepwater gas production rose 620 percent over those same years. Production of oil from the Gulf now accounts for more than 30 percent of all U.S. production; for gas it is 23 percent. "This domestic production helps keep our economy moving forward and provides necessary fuel for our homes, farms, factories, and offices," said Burton.

Industry has made several announcements of new oil and gas discoveries over the last three years. Most notably, there were five announced discoveries in 5,000 ft of water or greater in 2001, three in 2002, and six in 2003. A list of the 12 rigs drilling in 5,000 ft of water or greater follows:

Ultra-Deepwater Drilling in the Gulf of Mexico
Current Drilling Activity

Operator/Drilling Contractor Area/Block Drilling Rig Water Depth (ft)
Chevron USA, Inc./
Transcoean, Inc.
AC818 Discoverer Deep Seas 9,020
Anadarko Petroleum/
Transcoean, Inc.
AT349 Deepwater Millennium 8,730
Shell Offshore, Inc./
AC943 Glomar Jack Ryan 7,962
Shell Offshore Inc./
Transcoean, Inc.
MC657 Deepwater Nautilus 7,570
Chevron USA, Inc./
Transcoean, Inc.
MC696 Deepwater Pathfinder 6,989
BHP Billiton/
AT618 Glomar Explorer 6,257
Transcoean, Inc.
MC778 Discoverer Enterprise 6,039
Dominion E&P/
Transcoean, Inc.
MC734 Cajun Express 5,724
Dominion E&P/
Pride Offshore
MC773 Pride 1503E 5,610
Dominion E&P/
Transcoean, Inc.
MC772 Transocean Marianas 5,413
Transcoean, Inc.
GC943 Discoverer Spirit 5,314
Diamond Offshore
GC826 Ocean Confidence 5,065
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