Analyst: Gulf of Mexico is ‘only relative bright spot’ for deepwater activity

Offshore staff

NEW YORK – A total of 19 permits were issued in the US Gulf of Mexico last month, up from 13 in September, but down from 21 a year ago, according to Evercore ISI’s Oilfield Services, Equipment & Drilling group’s most recent report.  

Eight permits were issued for new wells, including three deepwater, four midwater, and one ultra-deepwater. Five permits were issued for side tracks while six were issued for bypasses and eight for new wells. A total of 154 new permits have been issued year to date, down 42% versus 2014, driven by sharply lower bypass and new well permits.

Only 58 new well permits have been issued year-to-date compared to 105 as of this time last year. While the number of ultra-deepwater and midwater new well permits have been largely resilient over the past year, only 18 deepwater and 12 shallow-water new well permits have been issued year to date, down 18% and 76% respectively from a year ago. 

Meanwhile, the number of new oil and gas exploration plans filed in the Gulf of Mexico ticked was steady month-to-month, with operators filing five plans to drill a total of 22 wells, versus five plans to drill 14 wells in September. No development plans were filed to drill in October, and development of the Lower Tertiary. appears to remain a long ways off as the industry has filed few development plans year-to-date.

With pricing having contracted sharply, Evercore ISI expects development activity to accelerate slightly in the coming months and years and it believes the Gulf of Mexico will be the only relative bright spot for deepwater activity in 2016-2017.


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