The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Gulf Lease Auction Points to Our Offshore Potential

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted March 19, 2014

This week’s central Gulf of Mexico lease auction, which saw oil and natural gas companies pledge more than $850 million in winning amounts, certainly helps support the United States’ status as an energy superpower. Developing more of our own oil and natural gas – and this week’s auction is a big step toward production – makes our country more energy secure, creates jobs and boosts the U.S. in global energy marketplace.

ocs_mapThe potential benefits from future energy production from this week’s auctioned leases – jobs, economic growth and revenue for government – also suggest a couple of “what ifs”: What if the federal government included the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) in its next five-year leasing plan, the first step toward development in those areas? What if the U.S. opened more of the eastern Gulf to exploration and development?

A recent study of the potential in just the Atlantic OCS offers insight:

  • Nearly 280,000 new jobs could be created
  • More than $50 billion in new revenue for government could be generated
  • Up to 1.3 million barrels of oil equivalent per day could be added to domestic production – approximately 70 percent of current Gulf output.

API Upstream and Industry Operations Director Erik Milito:

“Every lease sale held in the U.S. strengthens our hand as an energy superpower. Offshore lease sales have raised more than $17.3 billion for the government over the last 10 years and allowed our industry to create more jobs and produce more energy here at home. Holding lease sales in the Atlantic and more of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico would make America stronger economically and diplomatically.”

Additional detail from the new Gulf lease auction by Fuel

  • 50 companies filed bids
  • Many of the 380 total bids were for deep-water territory
  • During the last central Gulf sale a year ago, 52 companies submitted 407 bids on 320 blocks, with high bids totaling $1.2 billion

Acting Assistant Interior Secretary Tommy Beaudreau:

“I know there’s exciting stuff happening in a lot of different areas . . . but the Gulf of Mexico is and will be here to stay. The gulf of Mexico and the offshore industry of the United States is and will continue to be one of the bedrocks of the nation’s energy portfolio and our country’s energy future.”

This is true. Developing America’s offshore oil and natural gas reserves is fundamental to our country’s energy strength and its future. While this latest lease auction is a positive step, 87 percent of federal offshore acreage remains off limits to development. More of these offshore reserves need to be accessible for oil and natural gas development. This starts with including more areas in the government’s five-year offshore leasing plan.

Access, a reasonable permitting process and a consistent approach to regulation are key to realizing the benefits of America’s energy wealth, offshore and on.


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.