Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"New Oil Discovery in the Gulf of Mexico," By Tom Whipple, ASPO-USA, September 7, 2009

"Last week, the news was dominated by BP’s announcement on Wednesday that it had made a “giant” oil field discovery called Tiber, 35,000 feet beneath the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. BP did not announce the size of the find, but said it was comparable to other discoveries in the area, leading to press speculation that the Tiber find was on the order of 1-3 billion barrels. Initially the announcement that oil could be found so far below the surface was greeted with much enthusiasm with some stories suggesting that a new era of finding oil was at hand and that exploration in the Gulf would revive.

Within a day reality set in as reporters learned that it was likely to take ten years of difficult and expensive drilling before any oil could be produced and even then less than a third of the oil, and possibly as little as 5 to 15 percent, can be recovered. Given that production from existing fields in the Gulf is likely to start declining rapidly in the next few years, oil from the deep water discoveries is unlikely to be sufficient to increase production from the Gulf.

Production in the Gulf of Mexico accounts for about a quarter of total U.S. oil production, or about 1.2 million barrels a day. Gulf production peaked in 2003 at 1.56 million b/d. Most Gulf production wells tend to hit their peak within a year or two, and then begin to drop steeply several years later. Oil production in federal waters of the U.S. Gulf fell 9.8 percent last year, to the lowest since 1997, as new finds failed to keep pace with declining output from fields discovered in the 1970s and 1980s."


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