Natural gas production in the U.S. Federal Gulf of Mexico has been falling for almost 20 years, but the decline could be slowed or reversed as a result of new natural gas production fields coming online in 2018 and 2019, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In 2018, 10 natural gas production fields are expected to start producing natural gas, and in 2019, eight more will begin operating. The combined amount of natural gas the projects are expected to produce is about 836 billion cubic feet.
Between January and August, the Gulf of Mexico produced an average of about 2.6 billion cubic feet per day, accounting for about 4% of total U.S. production. In 1997, it produced an average of 14.3 billion cubic feet per day, or 26% of total U.S. production.
Natural gas production fell as the number of wells decreased, falling from 3,271 in 2001 to 875 in 2017. Producing natural gas from the seabed requires expensive technology and special expertise, and the cost for production platforms can often exceed $1 billion. Onshore drilling became more economical as exploration and production of shale gas and tight oil formations rose.
Most of the natural gas that’s produced in the Gulf of Mexico is associated-dissolved natural gas that comes from oil fields. Older oil wells have a higher natural gas content, and newer wells have more oil. In 2017, 59% of gross withdrawals of natural gas in the Gulf of Mexico were from oil wells, up from 13% in 1997.
The new projects that will come online in 2018 and 2019 will be the first since 2016 when five projects were added in the Mississippi Canyon and Green Canyon protraction areas and accounted for 1,429 billion cubic feet of natural gas resources. The majority of the new projects will be in the Mississippi Canyon and Green Canyon areas, south of the Mississippi and Louisiana coasts. Others will be in the Western Cameron, south of the Texas and Louisiana coasts, and De Soto Canyon and Viosca Knoll, south of the Mississippi, Alabama and Florida shores.