Authors: Juan Carlos Boué,

A Question of Rigs, of Rules, or of Rigging the Rules Upstream Profits and Taxes in US Gulf Offshore Oil and Gas

Two decades ago the combination of new deepwater technologies and the discovery of ample reserves in the Gulf of Mexico seemed to promise a new episode in the USA’s struggle to reduce its dependence on imported energy. This book by Juan Carlos Boué analyses in rich detail the story of oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico – its triumphs and its ultimate failure to rescue the country from its ever tightening energy balance. It is the first study to bring together, in a combined historical and institutional approach, an assessment of the development of oil and gas activities together with the public policies which have governed them. It uses rigorously and imaginatively the wealth of statistical and analytical material put in the public domain by various agencies of the US Federal or state governments. Its central contention is that an attempt by the authorities to ‘buy’ greatly increased output purely by means of tax breaks has been a failure; consequently the USA’s relentless increase in oil imports will continue and the country will also face the likelihood of a serious imbalance in the supply of and demand for natural gas throughout the remainder of the present decade. The policy of tax breaks has also led to a serious and unnecessary oligopolisation of the oil and gas industry and has helped to unleash acrimonious political conflicts that have effectively closed off the majority of the offshore United States (apart from the Gulf) to oil and gas activities.



  1. Introduction
  2. The US Gulf of Mexico: A Geographical Primer
  3. The Shallow Water Suprasalt
  4. The Shallow Water Subsalt
  5. The Deep Gas Province
  6. Historical Overview of the Deep Water
  7. Deepwater Oil and Gas Production
  8. How Long can the Deepwater Boom Last?
  9. Deepwater Economics
  10. Competition in the Markets for GOM Leases: The Great Casualty of Areawide Leasing
  11. Conclusions: What Should the World Learn from the Success Story of the Deepwater GOM?

Appendix I: Calculating Federal Tax Liabilities on Income from Upstream Activities in the GOM Federal OCS