The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Stepping Forward on Offshore Drilling

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted April 26, 2013

Take a look at the map below, one we’ve used before to show the vastness of America’s offshore oil and natural gas reserves – the overwhelming majority of which (in red) that’s off-limits for development.

offshore access

That should be changed – and could be changed with the right policies in Washington. Legislation introduced today in Congress to allow drilling off Virginia’s coast is a step in that right direction. The bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Scott Rigell of Virginia would require the Interior Department to sell at least one offshore lease for oil and natural gas development there, mandating that a portion of any federal revenue be shared with the commonwealth.

Access to areas offshore and onshore is vital to the kind of expanded domestic oil and natural gas production needed to make the United States more energy self-sufficient, which would strengthen our energy security. It’s unfortunate that such development is blocked for so much of our offshore reserves – again, look at all that red above – and especially off the coasts of states like Virginia that want drilling. Sales of Virginia leases were expected to begin in 2011 but that was put on hold until at least 2017 by the administration. Rigell’s legislation aims to change that policy. Erik Milito, API director of upstream and industry operations:

“Eighty-seven percent of federally-controlled offshore areas remain off-limits to energy production. Unlocking this oil and natural gas could provide a major boost to domestic energy production, state and local economies, and government revenue. The legislation proposed by Congressman Rigell is an excellent first step. Tapping resources off the coast of Virginia and other Atlantic states will be a key part of the all-of-the-above energy plan President Obama has promised. Before the first well can be drilled, the federal government must schedule lease sales and permit modern seismic surveys, which are essential for locating undersea energy resources.”

Policies that continue to block access to American oil and natural gas reserves means lost opportunities for jobs, capital investments and broader economic growth – in other words, the kinds of industrial/business activity President Obama has talked about as vital to boosting the national economy.

Forward-looking, pro-energy development  policies will help sustain a U.S. energy renaissance built on increasing domestic production of oil and natural gas. Energy/economics blogger Mark J. Perry has a post detailing how U.S. fossil fuel production, after peaking in 1969 and flattening out over the next 40 years, set new records in 2011 and 2012. Perry’s chart:

MJP Fossil Fuel


Domestic oil production has increased by another 25% so far this year through April, so it’s likely that US production of fossil fuels will set another new record this year. The rise of domestically produced fossil fuels to a new record high last year is yet another important milestone in America’s amazing energy revolution. That production record was only possible because of the advances in drilling technology that were developed in America and are now being used in America to access the nation’s energy treasures.

Amen. Technologies like hydraulic fracturing have made it possible for the U.S. to produce more oil and natural gas and take greater control over its energy future – provided there’s increase access as well.


Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.