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During the complex evolution and transition of the United States (US) Central Atlantic from a rift system to a passive margin, five post-rift sedimentary depocentres developed along its approximately 1850 km length. Varying in size, shape and thickness of sediment fill, these depocentres are separated by interbasin arches and regions lacking major post-rift sedimentary depocentres.

From 1976 until 1984, a single phase of exploratory drilling was carried out in three of these depocentres. Located primarily on the continental shelf, the tested play types resulted in a single, modest natural gas discovery. The drilling clarified the risks of various petroleum system elements and processes in the areas and plays tested.

During 2010, a new resource inventory covering the area was completed by a team of Bureau of Ocean Energy Management geologists and engineers. The inventory incorporated and applied modern exploration concepts and key new learnings from NE-adjacent offshore Nova Scotia, conjugate NW Africa and the African transform margin. Nine new conceptual plays and a single proven high-risk play have been identified and their resources inventoried.

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