The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Voters Support Offshore Energy

Jack Gerard

Jack Gerard
Posted March 9, 2016

Offshore oil production in the Gulf of Mexico is set to reach a record high next year, according to new projections from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). By the end of 2017, production is projected to reach 1.9 million barrels per day, accounting for 21 percent of total U.S. crude oil production.

That represents a crucial contribution to America’s energy security, economy and global energy leadership. Imagine if we doubled it. Opening areas in the Atlantic, Pacific and Eastern Gulf of Mexico could lead to production of more than 3.5 million barrels of oil equivalent per day – almost twice the amount EIA projects we’ll hit next year in the western Gulf alone.

The economic benefits associated with that level of production are significant. Between 2017 and 2035, according to Quest Offshore Resources analysis, expanded offshore production could:

  • Create nearly 840,000 new American jobs
  • Grow our economy by up to $70.2 billion per year
  • Raise over $200 billion in cumulative revenue for the government

That kind of success doesn’t happen overnight. The impending production increases in the Gulf of Mexico are the result of leasing plans set in motion years ago. That’s why the leasing plan for 2017 – 2022, currently being finalized by the Department of Interior, is so important. The new five-year plan will determine whether additional states will join the American energy revolution or continue to sit on the sidelines.

The proposed plan includes only one potential Atlantic lease sale, and not until 2021, but it’s a start. New polling shows a majority of voters in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina – including majorities of Democrats, Republicans and Independents – support offshore energy production. On a national level, polls show strong voter support for producing more domestic oil and natural gas resources, including offshore.


Besides being at odds with voter preferences, current policies that keep 87 percent of federal offshore acreage off limits to development are not in America’s interests. Protecting and building on the extensive economic and energy security benefits generated by the American energy revolution should be the Obama administration’s top priority in its next five-year leasing plan.


Jack N. Gerard is president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute (API), the national trade association that represents all aspects of America’s oil and natural gas industry. He also has served as the president and CEO of trade associations representing the chemical and mining industries. Jack understands how Washington works. He spent several years working in the U.S. Senate and House, and co-founded a Washington-based government relations consulting firm. A native of Idaho, Jack also is very active in the Boy Scouts of America, a university graduate program on politics, and his church’s leadership. He and his wife are the proud parents of eight children, including twin boys adopted from Guatemala.