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Recent active Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) lease sales in the offshore Texas and Louisiana portions of the United States Gulf Coast have emphasized that this will be an arena of vigorous exploration for at least the next decade. Much of the principal prospective acreage on the shelf area (water depth less than 200 m or 660 ft) has been awarded for exploration. As a consequence, there is now a well-established trend toward assessment of deeper water acreage (200-800 m or 660-2,625 ft). For example OCS sale 72, in May 1983, included the award of leases in water depths of over 1,000 m (3,280 ft). This trend is likely to make the United States portion of the Gulf of Mexico the first intensively explored deepwater area in the world.
Geophysical and geologic data have been acquired on a generally ad hoc basis by various research and governmental institutions over the last 15 years. More recently, individual oil companies and geophysical contractors have started more methodical data acquisition programs. This move toward a more systematic evaluation has culminated in extensive regional seismic programs being acquired to evaluate leases available in the April and July 1984 OCS sales 81 and 84.
Acquisition, processing, and interpretation problems can be expected by those attempting to evaluate prospects in the deep water portions of the Gulf of Mexico.
From the geophysical evidence available, broad conclusions can be made concerning the likely hydrocarbon potential of the area.
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