The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Better Planning For a Better Energy Future

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted June 16, 2014

With the Interior Department turning its attention to the next five-year offshore leasing plan, here’s a figure to keep in mind: 87 percent. That’s how much of our federal offshore acreage is off limits for energy development – and it’s costing us energy, jobs and economic growth.

Andy Radford, API senior policy advisor, set out some of the arguments for increasing access to energy reserves in the next five-year leasing plan during a conference call with reporters:

  • Pro-development energy policies opening access to areas both on and offshore could generate more than 1 million new jobs and 4 million additional barrels of oil per day.
  • Development in just the Atlantic outer continental shelf (OCS) could create nearly 280,000 new jobs, grow the economy by up to $23.5 billion per year and add 1.3 million barrels of oil equivalent per day to U.S. production.
  • Locked away in the Pacific and eastern Gulf of Mexico are more than 200,000 jobs, $218 billion in government revenue and 2.6 million barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Radford said including these areas in the next leasing plan would signal to global markets that the U.S. energy revolution is here to stay. Offshore development is safer than ever before, he said, pointing to a statement released in April by the co-chairmen of the national spill commission:

“We are generally pleased with the way the industry and the executive branch have moved ahead on the Commission’s recommendations to improve the safety of offshore drilling and the capacity to respond to spills. Federal regulatory agencies are implementing new rules regarding oversight of the industry and bolstering their enforcement activities. Government and industry are working together to create a safety-conscious culture in the offshore drilling industry. And the industry has substantially improved its capacity to respond to rupturing wells by pre-positioning caps for ready deployment should trouble occur. Thus, offshore drilling is safer than it was four years ago.”

In addition, the Center for Offshore Safety continues to work with companies and regulators to develop safety plans and systems for managing those plans – both designed to engrain safety even more deeply in day-to-day industry operations.

Radford said the next five-year offshore leasing plan, covering sales for 2017 to 2022, will be significant for U.S. energy development and called on the government to craft a plan that greatly expands access to oil and natural gas reserves:

“Decisions made now, especially in unexplored areas, will have impacts well into the future. Knowing this, the department should thoroughly analyze the resource-rich areas of interest throughout the entire U.S. Outer Continental Shelf and draft an expansive leasing plan that maintains current leasing areas and seeks to unlock new areas that are currently off-limits, such as the Atlantic and the eastern Gulf of Mexico.”

More Radford:

“The U.S. recently became the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas. This energy renaissance has put millions of Americans to work, generated billions of dollars in revenue for the government, and put downward pressure on prices for consumers. But earlier this month, the International Energy Agency reported that we could fall behind OPEC countries if U.S. production plateaus, which IEA says could result in ‘tighter and more volatile oil markets’ and add $15 per barrel to the price of oil. Growing U.S. production has dramatically increased our resistance to energy shocks, but our long-term energy security can only be ensured with a lasting commitment to expanding oil and natural gas development both on and offshore.”

Key to the leasing plan is a near-term federal decision on issuing permits for the collection of new seismic survey data in the Atlantic and the conditions it will set for those permits. Radford said the parameters for much-needed surveying should be based on the best available science and real operational experience, which he said have shown that surveys are safe and have negligible effect on marine mammals. The data is needed to set the stage for offshore leasing, exploration and development and shouldn’t be laden with restrictions based on unrealistic animal impacts, as API and other organizations argued in recent comments to the government. Radford:

“America’s oil and natural gas renaissance has nurtured our economy with good jobs, affordable energy, and stable prices, but if we want these benefits last for the long-term, we cannot afford to make short-sighted decisions about our energy future. The U.S. has an unprecedented opportunity to be the global leader in energy for decades to come, but achieving our true potential will take leadership and foresight from those in government who hold the key to accessing our offshore energy reserves. The time has come to open the lock and allow safe and responsible energy production throughout the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.