'America cannot wait. We need to move forward'

Doug Morris, upstream and industry operations director at the American Petroleum Institute, at the Department of the Interior's Apr. 16 hearing in San Francisco about a draft proposed five-year Outer Continental Shelf leasing plan.

Doug Morris, upstream and industry operations director at the American Petroleum Institute, at the Department of the Interior's Apr. 16 hearing in San Francisco about a draft proposed five-year Outer Continental Shelf leasing plan:

"Oil and natural gas production from the OCS plays a key role in supplying the energy our nation needs. However, most of this production comes from the Western and Central Gulf of Mexico. As demonstrated by the disruption caused by hurricanes several years ago, it is important that we diversify our sources of production and develop the large resources that are beneath the rest of the OCS.

"For the first time in many years, the secretary of the Interior has the opportunity to increase the stability and security of domestic oil and gas resources by opening these areas, and he should do so by moving forward in a timely manner with the draft proposed five-year plan.

"Increased oil and natural gas development is vital to our nation's economic recovery. This would mean new jobs, more revenues for cash-strapped local, state and federal governments, and greater energy security.

"These activities can move forward safely without harm to the environment. As noted by the MMS in the draft proposed plan, the industry has an "excellent environmental record that has been documented in detail." New technology and scientific innovations have played a key role in this record.

"As a result of new innovations, we are finding more oil, with fewer wells, in more remote locations. We are now able to drill with great precision using steerable drill bits and hit production targets that are less than six feet across.

"We are also now able to reach out horizontally at great distances. Two years ago, a new record was set when a well from an onshore location tapped into an offshore filed that was located more than seven miles away.

"We are now producing gas from wells that are located in water depths greater than 9,000 feet. This was not thought feasible 20 years ago. And finally, we now have the technology that allows us, in some cases, to reduce or eliminate visual impact arising from offshore development by installing equipment on the ocean floor rather than on offshore platforms.

"In summary, the US oil and natural gas industry has an outstanding offshore environmental record and has clearly demonstrated that offshore development can coexist with clean oceans and clean coasts. The US Outer Continental Shelf produces more than 1 million bbl of oil per day. Since 1980, less than one thousandth of a percent of that oil has been spilled.

"America cannot wait. We need to move forward with a five-year plan that includes all areas of the OCS for oil and gas development."

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

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