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Gulf of Mexico treading water

The Gulf of Mexico's breakevens have plunged, but the region is struggling to compete with low-cost shale

As they do every year around early May, tens of thousands of oil executives, engineers and salespeople streamed into Houston for the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC), taking over the city's football stadium and most of its hotels. But this year's edition of the annual confab was a more muted affair. It's no surprise. The offshore business is two years into a deep recession and investment has dried up. To underline the depths of the downturn, the number of rigs drilling in the nearby Gulf of Mexico (GoM) has fallen to just 17, a level not seen since the dark days after the 2010 Macondo oil spill. The conference, usually buzzing about the latest technology that will lead the industry into

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