Drilling advances ///

Deepwater exploration expands. A record number of drilling rigs are working in ultra-deepwater in the Gulf of Mexico. For the first time, 12 rigs are drilling for oil and gas in 5,000-ft water or greater in the Gulf – an important milestone which demonstrates how industry continues to focus on new frontiers. The US is now in its ninth year of sustained expansion of domestic oil/gas development in the deepwater US gulf, and it shows no sign of decreasing, MMS says. Deepwater oil production rose 535% between 1995 and 2002; deepwater gas production rose 620% over those same years. Production from the Gulf now accounts for more than 30% of all US oil production; and 23% of its gas. Industry made several announcements of new oil/gas discoveries over the last three years. Most notably, there were five announced discoveries in 5,000-ft, or greater, water in 2001, three in 2002 and six in 2003.

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