Posted May 16, 2017
Last month’s presidential executive order aimed at increasing access to U.S. offshore natural gas and oil reserves is starting to bear fruit with two important developments from the Interior Department, which oversees access to federal offshore and onshore resources.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has ordered the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to develop a new five-year outer continental shelf (OCS) oil and gas leasing program – replacing the program crafted by the previous administration – with “with full consideration given to leasing the OCS offshore Alaska, Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic, and the Gulf of Mexico.” Zinke also ordered reconsideration of a number of regulations governing offshore energy development.
That directive was followed by Interior’s announcement last week that it would resume its evaluation of applications from six companies seeking permits to conduct seismic surveys in the Atlantic – to determine the size of the oil and natural gas resource base there. Under the previous administration, Interior denied those applications. Zinke:
“Seismic surveying helps a variety of federal and state partners better understand our nation’s offshore areas, including locating offshore hazards, siting of wind turbines, as well as offshore energy development. Allowing this scientific pursuit enables us to safely identify and evaluate resources that belong to the American people. This will play an important role in the President’s strategy to create jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign energy resources.”
Both are welcome developments. America’s future energy security largely depends on safe development of offshore energy. Increasing access to offshore natural gas and oil is critically important with 94 percent of federal offshore acreage currently off limits:
“In addition to the Eastern Gulf, also opening areas in the Atlantic and Pacific could lead to production gains of more than a million barrels of oil equivalent per day and generate thousands of well-paying jobs. Increased access to energy resources is not only important for jobs and our economy, but also our national security. Resources discovered in the Atlantic, a virtually unexplored area, would take years to bring on line, and it is decisions made in the past that are keeping us from realizing the potential benefits now.”
Polling finds that 80 percent of U.S. voters support increased domestic natural gas and oil production. Developing America’s offshore energy is key to our country’s strategic security, and it also offers opportunity for regional and local economic growth, particularly along the eastern seaboard.
David McGowan, North Carolina Petroleum Council executive director:
“This administration’s action to prioritize responsible U.S. energy development is welcome news for consumers and businesses in North Carolina. Our state is uniquely positioned to add jobs and bring in local revenue through energy development, which can safely coexist with our current tourism and fishing industries while providing much needed diversity for our local economies.”
Miles Morin, Virginia Petroleum Council executive director:
“The Mid-Atlantic outer continental shelf off our coast is estimated to hold 2.41 billion barrels of oil and 24.63 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, which is why embracing these resources in a safe and responsible way is so important for our energy security. Doing so will also spur investment and economic activity, create jobs, provide revenue to the state and federal governments, and strengthen our national security.”
Dave Mica, Florida Petroleum Council executive director:
“The U.S. oil and natural gas industry has a long history of safe operations … Developing our offshore resources will strengthen the U.S. energy renaissance and help meet the energy needs of the consumers and businesses of Florida.”
Industry has the technology and know-how for safe development. This week’s International Oil Spill Conference in California is a bringing together of professionals from the private sector, government and non-governmental response community to discuss the science and technologies of preventing incidents, as well as responses in the rare event of a spill and restoring affected areas.
The conference features an expansive exhibition of the latest technologies and services and a comprehensive program of presentations/discussions of topics ranging from the latest on dispersants to training and preparedness and stakeholder engagement and more. Here’s a short video on the conference’s scope and its contribution to safe operations.
Our offshore energy is integral to individual livelihoods, our economy and our national security. Offshore development has never been safer, and industry is working continuously to improve its operations so that our country can fully benefit from its energy wealth.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.