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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


Volume: 32 (1948)

Issue: 12. (December)

First Page: 2315

Last Page: 2316

Title: Marine Exploration in Gulf of Mexico: ABSTRACT

Author(s): C. T. Jones, Shirley T. Mason

Article Type: Meeting abstract


Marine exploration is one of the most expensive types of development ever undertaken by oil companies; the great amount of capital which must be hazarded before any returns are assured, necessarily restricts these operations to the larger companies. To meet this enormous cost, some of the large companies, which otherwise are unrelated, have combined for marine work. A complete exploration department of landmen, geologists, and geophysicists is required. Operations of these integrated departments must be coordinated continually without delay by an understanding management. The risks encountered in marine work are great. In addition to executive efficiency, proper management calls for daring in the use of capital and clear vision as to future values of resources now uncomme cial.

Modern marine exploration for offshore oil and gas fields was apparently started experimentally in 1940, but had not reached its present large scale until 1946. The first offshore leases of the present type were obtained off the coast of Louisiana in 1945 and off Texas in 1947. Leasing requirements are different in Louisiana and Texas, and the more favorable conditions in Louisiana have resulted in the greater development there. The tidelands title controversy remains unsettled. Government agencies, such as the Corps of Engineers and the U. S. Coast Guard, demand that all of their regulations be respected. The fishing interests of Louisiana and Texas have made it difficult for the oil companies to plan and execute exploratory campaigns properly, thus increasing the cost. The high rent ls paid for leases force early development.

All types of geophysical exploration have been utilized in the Gulf of Mexico campaign. Originally, the gravity meter was used by lowering it with an operator in a diving bell; later, the present remote-controlled gravity meter was evolved. Magnetic surveying, using both airborne and boat-towed instruments, is also employed. Early seismograph work, with charges and seismometers on the Gulf floor, was slow and costly. Experience has greatly refined seismic methods until, today, this

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type of exploration is rapid, economical and obtains excellent results. It is estimated that all of the offshore areas of Louisiana, out to the 10-fathom depth, and about half of those of Texas, along a similar belt, have been mapped to date.

The culmination of this marine exploration program began late in 1947 with the development of production on the first piercement-type salt dome at a comparatively shallow depth. To date, five additional discoveries have been made of either oil or gas fields, and tests on three other prospects are encouraging.

The great cost and risk of marine exploration work must be recognized as small in comparison with the expense and hazard of the later exploitation phase. The tremendous costs of this development, to say nothing of the losses incurred in the dry wildcat wells which have been drilled and will continue to be drilled, will only be justified if there are no restrictions to prevent reasonable profits on the successful operations. The results of offshore work to date tend to confirm the original anticipation that this risking of enormous quantities of private capital will eventually make a great addition to the oil and gas reserves of the Western Hemisphere.

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Copyright 1997 American Association of Petroleum Geologists