Permit by permit, Gulf of Mexico drilling activity returns from the dead

The Gulf of Mexico has been labeled “the Dead Sea” several times in its recent life. The first pronouncement came in 1973 when a series of 10 big-budget offshore wells came up dry. Persistent wildcat drilling led to both the discovery of major fields in shallow waters and the opening up of the deepwater areas over the next three decades. The second obituary was written in 2005 after three years of steady production declines. In September 2006, Chevron discovered the massive Jack field and the industry embarked on a new era of exploration in the ultra-deepwater Lower Tertiary play. McMoRan’s discovery of the giant Davy Jones field in January 2010 in only 20 ft of water showed that there was plenty of life left in the world’s first offshore oilfield sector.

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