Gulf of Mexico

Geology & Evolution of the Petroleum Industry

3/6   Gulf of Mexico: Geology & Evolution of the Petroleum Industry”. Presented by Cynthia Blankenship, Geologists of Jackson Hole.

Did you know that the Gulf of Mexico Basin is the third most prolific oil & gas province in the world? And that revenue from the petroleum industry is often the #1 source of non-tax income for the US Federal Government? The revenue comes from leases, rentals and royalties, and was $2.5 Billion in 2016 (down from a high of $17.3 Billion in 2008).

The Geology of the Gulf of Mexico is fascinating. It has some of the most rapid sediment deposition in the world due to the mighty Mississippi. This tremendous dump of sand and shale over the past 145 million years also loaded the underlying Louanne Salt and mobilized it to form gigantic, fantastical shapes below the sea bed. They are so large that the deform the sea bed, and create underwater mountains (escarpments) with up to 3,000’ of relief. These salt features are also intimately related to the movement and trapping of oil and gas into thousands of fields.

In the 1930’s offshore drilling involved placing a land rig on a barge in a few feet of water. Drilling has since evolved to gigantic, purpose-built ships capable of drilling in water depths of more than 10,000’. Tremendous advances in seismic technology have also been critical to industry success. The GoM is now covered by multiple generations of 3D seismic surveys which allow geoscientists “see” deep under the sea bed.

Cynthia Blankenship started working the Gulf of Mexico as a geologist for BP in 1989 and has been involved in some of the most important exploration efforts and field developments there for the past three decades. In this talk she will cover the geology of the Gulf from Jurassic to present, the technologies that have unlocked its potential, and how government and industry work together in this vitally important and fascinating basin.