The offshore oil and gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico has a complex history marked by environmental, social, and political challenges. As an extension of the vast U.S. petroleum industry, the offshore industry was and is influenced by the operational, technological, economic, political, and moral issues that characterize that industry. Nevertheless, once offshore the industry faced new, unique circumstances. The technological challenges of offshore exploration and production are perhaps the most obvious: constructing drilling rigs and platforms that can withstand wave action, developing techniques for cutting and welding metals underwater, and transporting materials and equipment over vast expanses of open water. Yet, the social challenges are equally daunting: attracting and maintaining a workforce able and willing to live on a small metal structure for weeks at a time or to work hundreds and even thousands of feet below the water’s surface; organizing a workforce to take action and achieve results quickly and efficiently; and establishing a huge and oftentimes uncertain industry amid isolated rural communities.

To learn more about some of the sectors that make up the vast offshore petroleum industry, please follow the links in the left sidebar or click on an image in the slideshow above.