More than 100 oil and gas producers hold—but are not drilling—nearly 3,700 leases in the Gulf of Mexico covering an area about the size of North Carolina, a new report by the US House Natural Resources Committee’s minority staff concluded.
The report noted that the five largest oil companies—BP PLC, ExxonMobil Corp., Chevron Corp., ConocoPhillips, and Royal Dutch Shell PLC—hold 8 million acres, or almost 40% of the total.
“The oil companies are sitting on huge reserves of oil they’re not even using, and they come back asking for more areas to be opened up for them to drill,” said Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), the committee’s ranking minority member who requested the Oct. 22 report.
“President Obama is right: When it comes to the oil drilling leases these companies hold on America’s public land, they need to use it or lose it to a company that will drill,” he maintained.
A spokesman for the American Petroleum Institute said on Oct. 23 that the report is “an attempted distraction by those who are looking to save face for failing to present sound energy policy to the American people who want more development of our own energy resources (over 70%) and those who recognize that it creates more American jobs (over 90%).”
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