Close to 25% of all oil and gas produced in the United States comes from offshore production. A new era for the Gulf of Mexico has begun with intense industry interest in deepwater (> 300 m) areas. Production from deepwater now represents about 46% of all U.S. offshore oil and 17% of U.S. offshore gas. Spill response plans and capabilities must be upgraded to meet the challenges of this new remote activity. This paper outlines a joint research effort underway between government and industry to address needed research on deep spill plume and trajectory behavior and surveillance. Major topics discussed include the application of results from a June 2000 deepwater experimental release of oil and gas offshore Norway, findings from several laboratory studies on plume characterization, and an upgraded numerical model for deep spill trajectories. There is much interest from the offshore industry as to how these research findings will be incorporated into federal review of oil spill response plans for deepwater projects.

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