Service vessel activity in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico in support of the oil and gas industry using AIS data, 2009–2010
Offshore exploration and production in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico is supported by a large number of service vessels characterized by complex logistical patterns and demand points distributed across an expansive geographic area. No quantitative data on the spatial and temporal distributions of service vessel activity in the region is available due to the size, complexity and dynamics of the network. The purpose of this paper is to apply Automatic Identification System position data to quantify service vessel activity in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico from 2009 to 2010. A total of 1.1 million vessel arrivals and departures were recorded in 2009–2010, and in 2010, the number of vessel events increased by 40% due in part to the Macondo oil spill and cleanup response. Port-to-port movements comprise the majority of events and about 30% of activity relates to movements offshore. Port Fourchon, Venice, New Orleans, Sabine-Neches, and Lake Charles were the most active ports during the period. A detailed breakdown of vessel counts and the limitations of the analysis are outlined.