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Declining production in the Gulf of Mexico

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

According to a research report by the Bank of America, the US is the world’s largest petroleum exporter. US production of crude oil, and liquids separated from natural gas outstripped oil other countries this year, with daily output exceeding 11 million bbls in the first quarter.

Francisco Blanch, the Bank’s head of commodities research, commented: “The US increase in supply is a very meaningful chunk of oil. The shale boom is playing a key role in the US recovery”.

However, despite national gains, oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico is falling. According to the report, total fossil fuel production in the region is less than half of what is was a decade ago, down 49% from 7.57 trillion Btu in 2003 to 3.86 trillion in 2013.

The reason for the decline, according to the report, is decreased production at older offshore fields. Increasingly, companies are choosing to invest in newer gas finds onshore, where hydraulic fracturing has led to a boom in production. Natural gas production in the offshore gulf was down 74% from 2003 to 2013.

The region’s oil production has also declined. The offshore gulf produced approximately 447 million bbls of oil in 2013, down from a high of 584 million bbls in 2010.

A blog article by Sean Hackbarth of the US Chamber of Commerce has suggested that this is part of a disturbing trend in oil and gas production on federal lands. According to Hackbarth, federal laws aren’t helping.

The Interior Department’s most recent offshore leasing plan, finalised in 2012, keeps 86% of the outer continental shelf off limits to exploration and production. Hackbarth insists that on order to sustain America’s success in energy production, the Department should open more offshore areas to oil and natural gas development.

Adapted from a blog article by Emma McAleavey.

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