The riser project, in common with the other eight proposals, addresses specific technologies and architectural needs required in seawater depths greater than 1,500m/4,875 ft. According to RPSEA, tapping the substantial oil and gas resources at such depths is challenging and requires a complex and integrated systems approach, where the time from first discovery to first production can range from six to nine years and individual well costs can exceed $100 million (USD). RPSEA President C. Michael Ming says that, toward that end, "the 2007 Ultra-Deepwater Program is designed to bring the resources of America's leading universities, research institutions and technology innovators to bear on reducing costs, increasing efficiency, improving safety and minimizing environmental impacts of domestic production."
The projects are funded through the Ultra-Deepwater and Unconventional Natural Gas and Other Petroleum Resources Research and Development Program authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 with funding from lease bonuses and royalties paid by industry to produce oil and gas on federal lands. More information on RPSEA and the UDW Program is available at www.rpsea.org.