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The Largest Frontier of the Atlantic: Offshore USA

Abstract

Active exploration along Atlantic margins has led to significant hydrocarbon discoveries offshore Africa, South America, and North America (Canada). Starting in 1974, over 50 research and exploration wells were drilled offshore United States, clustering within three areas: Georges Bank Basin, Baltimore Canyon Trough, and SE Georgia Embayment. However, US Atlantic Margin exploration has been dormant for over 30 years, since the last well was drilled in 1984. Due to various economic, environmental, and political reasons this large area remains a significantly underexplored frontier for oil & gas industry. The next five years are unlikely to change this situation. Nevertheless, it is important to study and understand this margin as it is an integral part of the greater Atlantic geological history. In particular, studies from both North America and NW Africa conjugate margins are complementary to each other. Fortunately, geophysical and geological data acquired in the 1970's - early 1980's during the peak of exploration activities are still there to analyze. Some new data, information, and tools that were non-existent 30 years ago, are also available now. This work presents an introduction to the past activities and results, integrates old and newer data, and illustrates elements of exploration workflow while constructing an updated regional geological framework. Whether the oil & gas exploration along the US Atlantic Margin comes back soon or not, there are valuable lessons and data acquired here that an exploration geoscientist could learn from.