SUGAR LAND, Texas—Finding the next barrel of oil in a mature basin that has already produced tens of billions of barrels of oil could be a daunting task, but oil and gas companies operating in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico (GoM) are doing just that with geological knowledge and seismic tools in hand.

“We’re looking for what we call exceptional reservoirs at unexceptional depths,” Barbara Lowery-Yilmaz, senior vice president of exploration for Hess Corp., told attendees of AAPG’s Global Super Basins Conference. That’s code, she added, for wells that make money and aren’t expensive or too complex to develop.

It’s part of the strategy behind the company’s offshore cash engine in the GoM, where Lowery-Yilmaz said Hess is focusing on the subsalt Miocene, Cretaceous and Norphlet plays. However, regardless of where a company opts to play, investment in seismic imaging is a must—whether it’s acquisition, processing algorithms, full-waveform inversion or computational speeds, she said, noting how these have helped the GoM reinvent itself through the years.

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