WASHINGTON, Aug. 18 (UPI) -- The deep waters of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico continue to be one of the more prolific sources of oil and natural gas, the federal government said.
"The Gulf of Mexico has proven to be one of the world's most prolific hydrocarbon basins and is the primary offshore source of hydrocarbons for the United States," Mike Celata, a regional director for the Bureau of Ocean Management, said in a statement.
Nearly all of the offshore oil and natural gas produced in the United States comes from the Gulf of Mexico and reserves there account for 16 percent of the total oil and 4.5 percent of the total natural gas produced.
Eight fields started production in the Gulf of Mexico last year and four more are expected to enter into operations in 2016. A report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration found onshore declines should be offset by gains in the Gulf of Mexico in part because the offshore areas are less sensitive to short-term volatility in crude oil prices. The federal report estimated output from the Gulf of Mexico will account for about 20 percent of total U.S. crude oil production by next year.
"With approximately 82 percent of the Gulf of Mexico's oil production and 54 percent of the natural gas coming from wells drilled in 1,000 feet of water or greater, advancement into deepwater Gulf of Mexico continues as offshore operators meet the challenges presented in exploring and developing this energy frontier," the BOEM's report read.
As of 2014, the BOEM estimates the Gulf of Mexico holds as much as 56.8 billion barrels of oil equivalent.
The Gulf of Mexico, however, is not immune from the pressure from lower crude oil prices. Few bidders emerged during a March auction for new acreage in the region, with no bids received for eastern parts of the area