Association presidents want more access in next 5-year OCS plan

The presidents of three major US oil and gas trade associations urged the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to keep more of the US Outer Continental Shelf available for oil and gas leasing as the agency prepared to begin public meetings about the draft proposed 2017-22 US OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program.

The presidents of three major US oil and gas trade associations urged the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to keep more of the US Outer Continental Shelf available for oil and gas leasing as the agency prepared to begin public meetings about the draft proposed 2017-22 US OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program (OGJ Online, Feb. 6, 2015).

“Today, the government kicks off a series of public meetings around the country—starting in Fairbanks, Alas., and Washington, DC—to hear where people think offshore energy development should occur,” American Petroleum Institute Pres. Jack N. Gerard said in a Feb. 9 teleconference. “But these meetings will only focus on the narrow confines of what the Obama administration proposed in late January.”

Independent Petroleum Association of America Pres. Barry Russell, who also participated, added, “Opening new offshore areas to exploration will provide us with much-needed knowledge. Today, we don’t know the extent of what resources lie beneath US waters. As Americans, all of us own these resources and deserve to know—through the use of sound science—the full potential of our own offshore oil and gas reserves.”

The third participant, National Ocean Industries Association Pres. Randall B. Luthi, noted, “With one hand, the draft proposed program appears to support increased job, economic, and energy opportunities for America by opening up the mid- and south-Atlantic areas for further analysis and a possible lease sale. But with the other hand, the DPP slams the door on industry and on new jobs, increased economic activity, added revenue, and strengthened energy security that exploration and development of other new offshore areas would provide for America.”

Luthi said the draft offers fewer sales than the current program, adds questionable limits such as the 50-mile buffer zone off the Atlantic coast, reduces areas available for further analysis in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, and omits other offshore areas from consideration altogether.

Missing opportunities

Studies show the US could create 840,000 new jobs and raise more than $200 billion of revenue for the federal government if oil and gas development was allowed in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Eastern Gulf of Mexico, Gerard said.

“By ignoring the latter two areas, the administration has already turned its back on most of those jobs,” he said. “In the Atlantic, the government proposed just a single lease sale in the next 5-year program, and [US Interior Sec. Sally Jewell] was quick to say even that it may be canceled. Exploration and production in Alaska is also being restricted both on and offshore.”

Gerard said voters nationwide are experiencing the benefits of increased supplies first-hand at the gasoline pump. “We must maintain this momentum even as we pursue new markets abroad through exports. Access to the resource is key to both,” he said.

“This proposed 5-year plan represents an opportunity for the Obama administration to put a much more robust plan in place—one that opens up vital new offshore areas and best utilizes the energy resources we have right here at home,” Russell said. “So far, this administration has failed in that mission.”

Luthi said, “[It] has missed the opportunity to include additional OCS areas in the draft proposed plan. We do look forward to increased opportunity in the Atlantic, but we are disappointed that so much of the [OCS] will remain locked up—without the possibility of finding out if there are valuable resources in those areas.”

He said since areas that are excluded at any phase of a 5-year OCS program’s development can’t be reinserted, “NOIA and our supporters are not going to miss the opportunity to engage during the scoping meetings and commenting period. We strongly urge BOEM to keep all areas currently in the DPP in the next draft version of the program, including the proposed Atlantic Lease Sale 260.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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