The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

The Benefits of America’s Offshore Energy

Mary Leshper

Mary Schaper
Posted November 19, 2014

Tapping the energy resources off America’s coasts could improve our economy, our energy security and create thousands of jobs. Two new studies highlight the remarkable boost to job creation, U.S. energy security, domestic investment, and revenue to the government that lies within the Pacific Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) and the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.

API’s Group Director Erik Milito and the National Ocean Industries Association’s Randall Luthi outlined the studies for reporters during a conference call today. Milito:

“The oil and natural gas industry is a rare bright spot in our economy, and the ability to safely develop new offshore resources is critical to America’s continued energy security and job growth.”

A third study in this series – released previously – focused on the Atlantic OCS. According to the studies, opening these areas to offshore oil and natural gas development could create nearly 840,000 new American jobs, grow our economy by up to $70 billion per year, and raise more than $200 billion in revenue for the government by 2035. A few specifics:

  • Pacific OCS development could create more than 330,000 jobs and raise $81 billion in government revenue

  • Eastern Gulf of Mexico development could create nearly 230,000 jobs and raise $69 billion in government revenue

  • Atlantic OCS development could create nearly 280,000 jobs and raise $51 billion in government revenue

Today, 87 percent of all federally controlled offshore acreage – including almost all of these three regions – is off-limits to offshore oil and gas development. If these areas were included in the federal government’s next five-year leasing program and lease sales began in 2018, exploratory drilling could begin the following year and commercial production could be expected as early as 2023.

Government estimates of resources in Alaska, the Atlantic and Pacific remained flat the past 17 years, but estimates for the Gulf of Mexico have increased dramatically. Why? Because that’s where industry has been allowed to explore.

When oil and natural gas companies are allowed to look for oil and natural gas, they find it. Exploration allows estimates to become more than just guesses. And if you can’t explore for and drill for oil and natural gas, you will never know how much you actually have.

Access to energy reserves is fundamental to safe and responsible development. Industry and government are working to enhance the safety of operations – to prevent spills from occurring and to quickly respond in the unlikely event of a spill.

In July, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) made a significant decision to allow seismic surveying in the Atlantic OCS – a method of exploration comparable to taking an ultrasound of the ocean floor and geology beneath it (here’s a quick video on how it works). This is a step in the right direction, establishing the data foundation for exploring and developing our offshore resources. Luthi:

“None of the benefits shown in the studies can be realized without actual sales. The key to tapping this amazing economic and energy potential is including lease sales in these areas in the 2017-2022 OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program.”

States would be big winners with increased access to our offshore resources. From the Eastern Gulf alone, Florida stands to gain 85,000 new jobs and almost $19 billion in revenue, with another 9,000 jobs and $1 billion coming from development in the Atlantic. More state numbers:

  • Along the rest of the Gulf Coast, the studies project employment gains of 21,000 jobs in Alabama, 12,000 in Mississippi, 31,000 new jobs in Louisiana, and 62,000 in Texas

  • California is expected to witness the largest employment growth along the Pacific Coast with 175,000 new jobs, with Oregon and Washington making significant gains as well

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.