Ultra-deep drilling activity on the Gulf of Mexico shelf is targeting a new deep gas play fairway below established older production. The fairway extends from the Mississippi delta across the Texas shelf in the section below 25,000 feet. Large relatively simple anticlines with inverted Paleogene and Cretaceous sediment packages have been identified. These packages have been mapped regionally and locally to identify isopach thicks that should be favorable for accumulation of reservoir sandstone. The main exploration risks identified for the ultra-deep fairway are reservoir presence and quality. The targeted deep structures contain sediments that exhibit internal ponded geometries with thickening axes coincident with present day anticlinal axes. Closure on many of the deep inversion anticlines formed very early as a result of initial autochthonous salt withdrawal. The deep structures are de-coupled from the shallower growth faulted section. Restoration of the structures through geological time indicates a complex interaction between salt thickness, depositional thickening and structural geometry.


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