This report was prepared to provide a concise description of offshore operations related to exploration for petroleum (oil and natural gas} from the initial geologic and geophysical investigations to production. Petroleum deposits differ in their physical and chemical properties and are associated in the rocks with saline water. The origin of petroleum and its migration through rocks are not well understood. Commercial accumulations are found in certain suitable rocks or geologic structures - stratigraphic and structural traps, respectively. Prospective areas offshore are leased to exploration companies by the federal government. Exploration begins with geological and geophysical investigations that lead to the selection of smaller, promising areas. Detailed studies and drilling are then carried out and, if petroleum is found, various tests are performed to determine the volume of oil or gas or both. If the quantities are large, production facilities are designed and located on the site. The petroleum produced is transported to refining facilities or gas companies onshore by pipelines or tankers. Experience has shown that large, damaging oil spills are very rare. The most common cause of spills is marine transportation. To find new, large petroleum accumulations exploration will have to be expanded into deeper waters and into less hospitable regions.
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