With the advent of much better technologies since the early 1990s, offshore oil and gas exploration and crude oil production (E&P) has greatly expanded worldwide.
The U.S. Gulf of Mexico and offshore West Africa and Brazil are the hottest areas, or “plays,” for both new discoveries and actual production. However, exploration is now underway in many frontier areas around the world, including the Caspian Sea, the south Irish Sea, off the coast of Italy, India, Nicaragua, Columbia, Peru, Australia, southeast Asia and a long list of others, according to trade publications and government statistics.
While offshore drilling has been around since the late 1940s, most was done relatively close to shore, or in shallower waters. Only rapid technological advances during the 1990s enabled “hydrocarbon hunters” to search for oil and gas, then produce it, in the rigors of deepwater, or at water depths greater than 1,000 feet.