The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Energy Production on Federal Lands

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted May 31, 2013

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has a new report that details the decline in sales of oil and natural gas from production on federal lands (2003-2012). Key points:

  • Sales of crude oil from federal lands, onshore and offshore, decreased 5 percent in fiscal year 2012 (ended Sept. 30) to 596 million barrels from 629 million barrels in FY 2011. That includes an 8-percent decrease in offshore volumes, partially offset by an 8-percent increase in much smaller onshore volumes.
  • Natural gas sales from federal lands decreased 7 percent in FY 2012 to 4,262 billion cubic feet (bcf) from 4,584 bcf in FY 2011. Offshore volumes were down 19 percent, while onshore was virtually unchanged.
  • Sales of all fossil fuels produced on federal lands (also including coal and natural gas plant liquids) fell by 4 percent in FY 2012.

Here’s the EIA table for oil and lease condensate:

EIA oil sales

And natural gas:

EIA Sales of Natural Gas Federal Lands

For both oil and natural gas, overall sales from federal production have declined since FY 2003 – oil by 12.2 percent and natural gas by 37.3 percent. For each, declining offshore production is the dominant factor. EIA:

Crude oil and lease condensate production on federal lands dropped to 26 percent of total U.S. production in FY 2012, down from 31 percent in FY 2011. In contrast, total U.S. crude oil production (from public and private lands) increased by 15 percent because of rapid growth in production of tight oil from resources on private lands. … Natural gas production on federal lands dropped to 18 percent of the U.S. total in FY 2012, down from 20 percent in FY 2011.

The takeaway is in the stat showing that overall U.S. oil production grew in FY 2012 despite falling federal output. That is, in areas where the federal government controls access, leasing, permitting, etc., production is down.

The president has repeatedly called for an all-of-the-above approach to energy, and we agree. The EIA data suggests pro-growth policies are needed in federal areas – more access to public reserves and common-sense regulation that foster more leasing, timely permitting and increased drilling.


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.