They are wells, producing oil and gas from water nearly two miles deep in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM)-depths of eternal darkness where sea pressure is 2.5 tons per square inch and massive robots do the work once done by divers. These deepwater holes represent the last new frontier for U.S. domestic petroleum development. It is a frontier that requires tremendous investment in capital, technology, and operational know-how.
Most of America's "easy oil" on land and in shallow coastal waters has been found and produced with those reserves decreasing every year. Nevertheless, the United States remains a major producer of crude oil with 8 percent of the world's reserves, ranking third behind Saudi Arabia and Russia.
The problem is that the nation consumes 60 percent more than it produces. The United States has not been self-sufficient since the 1970s, when a barrel of crude was valued at about $10. Today, that oil costs more than six times that figure.