API slams BOEM’s proposed offshore lease sale for lack of vision

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s proposed offshore lease sale has been attacked as a program without vision, by the American Petroleum Institute.

API Executive Vice President Louis Finkel addressed what he sees as flaws in the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program during a press briefing ahead of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing.

In a statement on Thursday, API said that 87 percent of federal offshore areas remain off limits to oil and natural gas production.

“While the United States has become the number one producer of oil and natural gas in the world thanks to development that has taken place mostly on private and state lands, the federal government has been slow to react to our nation’s new energy reality,” Finkel said, ” The U.S. energy renaissance has happened over the past decade despite this administration’s delays in permitting and a barrage of unnecessary and often duplicative regulatory proposals. But if continued, these burdens could set us back years. The U.S. needs forward-looking energy policy.”

The organization highlighted the fact that the Department of the Interior recently removed the Atlantic portion of the leasing program during the draft portion of the program development earlier this year, “leaving only offshore Alaska as the area with the most potential for new oil and natural gas resources.”

However, API notes that the plan is not yet finalized, and leasing areas have not been confirmed, even hinting that the removal of Alaska from the lease sale could happen as well.

“Leaving out offshore Alaska would put the U.S. at a serious global competitive disadvantage, considering that Russia, Iran, Norway and other countries are moving rapidly to develop oil and gas resources,” said Finkel. “We must continue to think ahead, explore and develop new areas to protect U.S. energy security for generations to come.

API said that arctic offshore energy development could add 27 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas to America’s proven energy portfolio and create more than 54,000 jobs across the country, according to recent studies.

It’s estimated that the Beaufort and Chukchi seas have more technically recoverable oil and natural gas than the Atlantic and Pacific coasts combined, API said.

Interior Department’s proposed lease sale includes 13 potential lease sales in six planning areas – 10 potential sales in the Gulf of Mexico and three potential sales off the coast of Alaska.

Back in March, the Obama administration put the offshore exploration acreage in the Atlantic off limits for offshore exploration, citing market dynamics, strong local opposition and conflicts with competing commercial and military ocean uses.

The draft proposal had envisioned a sale late in the Program at least 50 miles offshore the coasts of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia in a portion of the Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic Planning Areas.

The comment period for the Proposed Program closes on June 16, 2016. After reviewing the comments and conducting further analysis, BOEM anticipates releasing the Proposed Final Program in late 2016.

Offshore Energy Today Staff