A new report issued by GBI Research says global offshore drilling expenditure is expected to grow to more than US $490 billion in the period from 2009 to 2015. According to the report, global offshore drilling has been going up and was especially high from 2004 to 2008. GBI Research estimates approximately $350 billion was spent on offshore drilling from 2000 to 2008, with the US Gulf of Mexico (GoM), West Africa, Brazil, and Asia Pacific receiving most of the investment. The report says that global drilling expenditure is forecast to grow at an annual average rate of about 6.6% from 2009 to 2015. “The discovery of deep water and subsalt reserves is expected to drive investments in the sector,” the report says. Interestingly, advances in technology leading to increased efficiency and a reduction in extraction costs are expected to reduce the total investments. But positive factors leading to increases in investments are likely to outweigh the negative factors, leading to a significant increase in offshore drilling spend. South and Central America are expected to be a top region for offshore drilling expenditure by 2015. Signs of things to come include increased exploration in the area, leading to significant discoveries. “Brazil is the most promising region,” the report says, noting that the country “is emerging as one of the most important offshore drilling markets in the world due to the discovery of huge reserves in the offshore regions.” Discoveries like Tupi and Azulao have demonstrated the presence of vast reserves and are expected add significant reserves during the forecast period. GBI Research says offshore drilling expenditure in South and Central America totaled more than $55 billion from 2000 to 2008 and that the area is expected to attract close to $100 billion from 2009 to 2015. “Brazil alone is expected to attract a drilling spend of more than $80 billion,” the repost says. Not surprisingly, the trend toward deep and ultra-deep E&P continues to drive growth of the offshore drilling industry. Shallow-water activity is expected to decrease in the GoM as offshore natural gas production declines. Technology is another major factor promoting increased deepwater activity, the report says, pointing to Perdido as “a classic example of advances in technology being put to good use.” A panel discussion Tuesday at CERA Week in Houston had a similarly positive outlook for offshore opportunities following the global recession. Click here for story on the discussion. And analysts across the board are sounding increasingly optimistic. If these projections are right, it looks like we could be on our way into another up-cycle. As far as I’m concerned, it’s about time! More information about the GBI Research report is available here.