The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Pattern of Delay Continues

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted January 27, 2010

Every credible projection of future U.S. energy demand through 2030 predicts that this nation will need more energy in the coming years, including more oil and natural gas. How is the administration addressing this need?

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The Interior Department (DOI) yesterday announced that the Virginia offshore lease sale, which is supposed to occur in 2011, is likely to be stalled until 2012. As API has noted in this space many times, Interior Sec. Ken Salazar appears to be practicing a pattern of delay. In recent months, he has delayed lease sales and rescinded leases, hampering the nation's ability to develop domestic oil and natural gas.

Sec. Salazar's new energy development rules also are causing concerns. The Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States (IPAMS) says DOI is slowing investment in oil and natural projects by not providing clear guidance on the new regulations.

In a letter to Salazar, IPAMS wrote:

"The administration has repeatedly recognized the vital role of natural gas to increase energy security, enable renewable energy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. How does intentionally delaying the development of American natural gas address the urgency of these administration goals?"

Starting tomorrow, the DOI will begin accepting comments on the environmental impact of conducting seismic tests in the Atlantic. While this is a positive step in the right direction, it should be noted that Congress ordered DOI to move forward. And if DOI allows the seismic studies to proceed, there's no assurance that the administration will allow companies to explore for and produce the energy resources.

As the delays continue in the United States, at least one country in the Atlantic is welcoming offshore exploration. Starting this summer, a drillship called the Stena Forth will explore the deep waters west of Greenland where huge deposits of oil and natural gas are believed to exist. As Popular Mechanics reported recently, Greenland with its population of 58,000 could have 50 billion barrels of oil or oil equivalent, which amounts to 860,000 barrels per person.

The United States is believed to have 116.4 billion barrels of oil and 650.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas that are undiscovered and could be recovered using today's technology.

But Americans don't have access to it. Instead the nation has a pattern of delay.