Dozens of new oil rigs planned for Gulf of Mexico

It’s open season for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

A five-month moratorium on deep-sea drilling was imposed after the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, but those days are long gone. Now a record-breaking number of rigs are coming to the Gulf to tap gas and oil beneath the sea floor.

More than 60 rigs are expected to be operating in waters deeper than 1,000 feet by the end of 2015, up from 36 today, Bloomberg reports:

Demand is driven in part by exploration successes in the lower tertiary, a geologic layer about 20,000 feet below the sea floor containing giant crude deposits that producers are only now figuring out how to tap. Companies such as Chevron Corp. and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. must do more drilling to turn large discoveries into producing wells — as many as 20 wells for each find.

“The Gulf had more than its fair share of discoveries,” Chris Beckett, chief executive officer at Pacific Drilling SA, said in an interview. “Right now, the Gulf is the fastest growing deep-water region in the world.”

The revival will add to surging crude oil supplies from the U.S. shale boom, with Gulf production climbing 23 percent to 1.55 million barrels a day by December 2014 from 1.26 million in March, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

What could go wrong?

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