A Mountain (Dome) of Opportunity

  • Prolific natural gas and oil production compared to other locations
  • Extensive oil and gas infrastructure
  • Two of four strategic petroleum reserve (SPR) facilities
  • Highest capacity for crude oil distillation in the U.S.
  • Numerous ports for transport of offshore oil and gas
  • American Energy O&G assests and expertise
  • Political connections
  • Technically difficult, but larger reserves

Gulf Coast Salt Domes

There are no less than 100 salt domes in the Louisiana coastal area. Salt domes, or plugs, are an important element in the origin of the south Louisiana oil fields. Exploration for oil and gas has revealed salt domes in more than 100 sedimentary basins that contain rock salt layers several hundred meters or more thick. Salt domes are known in every ocean and continent.

Salt domes supply industrial commodities including fuel, minerals, chemical feedstock, and storage caverns. Giant oil or gas fields are associated with salt domes in many basins around the world, especially in the Middle East, North Sea, and South Atlantic regions. Salt domes are also used to store crude oil, natural gas (methane), liquefied petroleum gas, and radioactive or toxic wastes.

These oil pools can eventually be extracted, and indeed form a major source of the petroleum produced along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

Salt domes are largely subsurface geologic structures that consist of a vertical cylinder of salt embedded in horizontal or inclined strata. In the broadest sense, the term includes both the core of salt and the strata that surround and are domed bythe core. Major accumulations of oil and natural gas are associated with salt domes in the U.S., Mexico, the North Sea, Germany, and Romania; domes along the Gulf Coast contain large quantities of sulfur. Salt domes are also major sources of salt and potash on the Gulf Coast.

The salt that forms these deposits was laid down in prehistoric times, mainly in places where inland seas were periodically connected and disconnected from oceans. As these seas are cut off from the main body of water, the water evaporates, leaving immense salt pans. Over time, the salt is covered with sediment and becomes buried. Since the density of salt is generally less than that of surrounding material it has a tendency to move upward toward the surface forming large bulbous domes, sheets, pillars, and other structures as it rises. If the rising salt diapirbreaches the surface it can become a flowing salt glacier. These large domes may be anywhere from 1 to 10 kilometers across and extend as far down as 6.5 kilometers.

The strata immediately above the dome that are not penetrated are pushed upward, creating a dome-like reservoir above the salt where petroleum can also gather. These oil pools can eventually be extracted, and indeed form a major source of the petroleum produced along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.