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Natural Gas Resource Characterization of the Federal Offshore Gulf of Mexico: Data Analysis of Key Sand Attributes for Future Exploration and Development Opportunities

By

KIM, EUGENE M.

Bureau of Economic Geology, John A. and Katherine G. Jackson School of Geosciences, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX

 

The Federal Offshore Gulf of Mexico is a major U.S. natural gas producing region. It currently accounts for 25 and 15 percent of U.S. natural gas production and proved reserves, respectively, second only to the State of Texas. As demand for natural gas increases, a larger share of U.S. natural gas production and proved reserves are forecast for the Federal Offshore Gulf of Mexico.

The Federal Offshore Gulf of Mexico contains 10,235 sands in 1,042 fields with reserve estimates, according to the Minerals Management Service's Atlas of Gulf of Mexico Gas and Oil Sands (2001). The hydrocarbons in these sands are 66 and 34 percent natural gas and oil, respectively. Cumulative natural gas production was approximately 133 Tcf from 9,470 sands in 962 fields, whereas remaining natural gas proved reserves are approximately 30 Tcf as of January 1, 1999.

Although Federal Offshore Gulf of Mexico summary statistics such as ranges and averages exist, more detailed data analysis of key sand attributes is required. Data analysis of various quantitative attributes from the 10,235 sands, such as water and subsea depth, porosity, water saturation, thickness, area, pressure, temperature, discovery date, initial gas in place, and gas recovery factor, will provide a more detailed natural gas resource characterization of the Federal Offshore Gulf of Mexico. Furthermore, when combined with data analysis of qualitative attributes such as structure, trap, drive, and depositional style, as well as cross-correlation of these with the quantitative attributes, important trends for future exploration and development opportunities may be delineated.