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Total drilling activity in Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, including both exploratory and development wells, decreased 8.9% from 855 in 1982 to 779 in 1983. However, exploratory drilling in the southeastern states in 1983 increased 7.2%. Exploratory tests totaled 357 versus 333 tests in 1982, and 52 were successfully completed for a 14.6% success rate. This compares to 46 successful completions and a 13.8% success rate in 1982.
The shallow Eocene Wilcox trend in southwest Mississippi accounted for 39.8% of exploratory tests in the southeastern states during 1983. This active trend had 11 new-field discoveries compared to only 6 new-field discoveries in 1982. The Paleozoic trend of northeast Mississippi and northwest Alabama had 17 new-field discoveries compared with 16 the previous year. This trend represented 18.4% of the exploratory drilling activity in the southeast. The Jurassic trend had 4 new-field discoveries for a 50.0% decline relative to 1982 when 8 new-field discoveries were made. The Jurassic accounted for 17.4% of the total exploratory effort in the southeast in 1983. The Upper Cretaceous, Lower Cretaceous, and Miocene trends accounted for 12.9%, 8.1%, and 3.4%, respectively, of the total explor tory tests. Six new-field discoveries were reported in the Upper Cretaceous, 2 in the Lower Cretaceous, and 3 in the Miocene.
Seismic activity was down 18.1% as crew-week totals dropped from 1,306 in 1982 to 1,070 in 1983. Oil and gas production also showed a decline. Oil production decreased 12.1%, and gas production decreased 7.9%.
In 1984, a modest increase in exploratory drilling can be expected. Most of the activity will be concentrated in the Wilcox, Paleozoic, and Jurassic trends. These 3 trends represented approximately 75% of the exploratory activity in the southeastern states in 1983, and a similar level of activity in these trends is expected to occur in 1984. Natural gas exploration below 15,000 ft will continue to be slow because of continuing poor economic conditions for deep gas. Seismic activity should show a modest improvement in 1984 as companies attempt to improve prospect inventories. The increase in seismic activity will be accompanied by an increase in acreage availability as 3- and 5-yr term lease blocks taken during the boom years of 1979-81 expire. Even with increased exploratory activity, 1984 oil and gas production in the southeastern states will show a decline relative to 1983 unless a number of significant discoveries are made. The independents and smaller companies will continue to conduct the bulk of the exploratory drilling in the southeastern states.
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