Seafloor area within reach of petroleum technology

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Date of Original Version



The depth capabilities of offshore oil technologies have increased substantially over the last four decades. Recently exploratory drilling operations have been conducted in water as deep as 2119 m and oil and gas production facilities have been installed in 311 m of water. The maximum potential impact of the technology is computed yearly using annual depth records which are converted into area of seafloor. In one region, the Western Gulf of Mexico, deep water production capability had exceeded the bathymetric limits and hence area of the geologic shelf by 1975. On a global scale if depth is the sole constraining factor, up to 53 million km2 or 15% of ocean-area is now open to exploratory drilling. This is equivalent to 37% of all land area above sealevel. Using the same bathymetric constraint up to 23 million km2 worldide became available for production by 1978. These subsea areas will influence global supply during times of high demand for oil and gas. © 1986.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Ocean Management