High bids by major oil producers in a recent Gulf of Mexico offshore auction point toward a resurgence of interest in deepwater exploration. This year’s bids totaled $121 million—nearly a seven-fold increase over the bids on the Outer Continental Shelf auctioned last summer by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).
In December of 2015 the United Stated lifted its ban on exporting domestic oil, and terminals up and down the Gulf Coast began vying for that business. Prior to the ban being lifted, only 10 countries were importing U.S. crude. Since then, that number has grown to 33. And it’s a trend likely to continue.
Up until now, an estimated 60% of the world’s supply of natural gas has been locked in hard-to-reach places, like the ocean floor. With Floating Liquefied Natural Gas (FLNG) projects, that’s no longer the case. These revolutionary facilities—technological marvels built to process, on site, natural gas trapped under the sea and far from shore—open up gas fields once thought of as logistically and economically unfeasible to monetize.
The “shale revolution,” as it’s been called, has led not only to the construction of new pipelines and LNG terminals, but also to a significant increase in this country’s energy exports. Less than a decade ago, U.S. gas production from conventional fields was in a downward spiral. And experts predicted that the country would become, of necessity, one of the largest importers of natural gas.