The deep waters of the US Gulf of Mexico (GoM) have been good to oil and gas companies lately. Anadarko Petroleum Corp. hit 305 m (1,000 ft) net of oil pay in the GoM earlier this month in what some believe could be a multibillion find and double the Shenandoah basin’s resource potential. Chevron Corp. announced March 25 that it discovered oil at the Coronado prospect in deepwater GoM. The Walker Ridge Block 98 No. 1 well encountered more than 122 m (400 ft) of net pay. The discoveries came the same month that more than 50 companies submitted just more than 400 bids on 320 tracts offshore Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. The central GoM lease sale drew US $1.6 billion in bids. The news is further proof that activity in the GoM has been resurrected as companies – including foreign companies like Statoil – step up interest in what remains a bountiful energy haven for North America. The GoM is indeed one of the country’s “crown jewels” as Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar described it. The GoM’s federal offshore oil production makes up 23% of the total US crude oil production and accounts for 7% of the country’s natural gas dry production, according to data published in 2012 by the US Energy Information Administration. But the US could add more crown jewels to its treasure chest by opening more land offshore to responsible oil and drilling efforts. The federal government appears to have interest in taking such steps, considering its efforts to learn more about the potential in the Atlantic Ocean. Currently, the government is gathering geological information that Salazar said will allow the agency to update stale information on the Atlantic. Although the area is not included in the 2012-17 oil and gas leasing plan, he said “it is our view, the president’s view, and my view, that we ought to go ahead and develop additional information so we can make informed decisions about the future.” Data on the Atlantic is about 30 years old, according to Acting Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Tommy Beaudreau. During opening remarks for the March 20 lease sale, he spoke briefly about having a strategy for the Atlantic. The first step is to develop information about the resource potential, which is under way, keeping in mind other existing uses for the area, specifically military use. Nonetheless, the administration’s effort is a step in the right direction for the industry. Central and western GoM and southern California have extensive production histories. But more opportunity could lie in other areas of the US Outer Continental Shelf. Getting updated geological information will be beneficial in assessing the Atlantic’s resource potential. Adding another crown jewel to US oil and gas coffers would be a good thing. Contact the author, Velda Addison, at