The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Tapping America’s Offshore Energy ‘Gold Mine’

Mary Leshper

Mary Schaper
Posted December 5, 2013

America’s vast offshore energy reserves present an opportunity to improve our economy, increase our energy security and create tens of thousands of jobs. According to a new study, opening the U.S. Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) to offshore oil and natural gas development could turn that opportunity into reality. API’s Director of Upstream Erik Milito and the National Ocean Industries Association’s Randall Luthi outlined the study for reporters today. Milito:

“Oil and natural gas production off our Atlantic coast is a potential gold mine. Developing oil and natural gas in the Atlantic could put hundreds of thousands of Americans to work, make us more energy secure, and bring in needed revenue for the government. But none of these benefits will appear unless the federal government follows pro-development energy policies.”

According to the study, oil and natural gas development in the Atlantic OCS between 2017 and 2035 could:

  • Create nearly 280,000 new jobs along the East Coast and across the country.
  • Result in an additional $195 billion in new private investment.
  • Contribute up to $23.5 billion per year to the U.S. economy.
  • Add 1.3 million barrels of oil equivalent per day to domestic energy production, which is about 70 percent of current output from the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Generate $51 billion in new revenue for the government.

For the past five years, the Obama administration has been considering whether to allow seismic surveying off the Atlantic coast, which would give energy producers better knowledge of actual resources. Americans stand to benefit if seismic surveying permits are approved and the Atlantic and other offshore areas that have been kept off-limits are included in the next five-year leasing program. A decision on Atlantic OCS seismic testing is expected in Spring 2014.


“The key is getting Atlantic lease sales included in the 2017-2022 Offshore Leasing Plan. None of the benefits shown in the study can be realized without actual sales. Everyone is looking for the silver bullet that will decrease unemployment, increase federal revenue without raising taxes, and make America more energy secure. Tapping more of our offshore energy is that elusive silver bullet.”

States would see the economic and jobs benefits immediately – and not just along the East Coast.  States throughout the U.S. would see the ripple effect from offshore development. Milito:

“Major capital investments, job creation, and revenue to the government would all begin years before the first barrel goes to market. Expanding offshore energy production would also send a strong signal to the energy markets that America is leading the world in developing energy resources, which could help put downward pressure on prices.”

Want to see how unlocking America’s offshore potential will benefit your state? Check out this interactive map:


Mary Schaper is a Digital Communications Manager for the American Petroleum Institute. She previously worked on Capitol Hill for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee as Digital Director and for Senator Lisa Murkowski. Before coming to D.C., she spearheaded digital strategy for Murkowski's successful Senate write-in campaign in 2010. Schaper enjoys traveling and taking in the local culture alongside her husband, their son and loyal springer spaniel.