In early January, the Department of the Interior released the National Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program (National OCS Program) for 2019-2024. The draft National OCS Program proposes to make more than 90 percent of the OCS acreage available for consideration for future exploration and development. The National OCS Program identifies 47 potential lease sales, including acreage off the coast of Alaska and regions in the Pacific, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic — the greatest number of lease sales proposed in a five-year lease schedule to date.
Access to and responsible development of the U.S. offshore energy resources are vital to a robust, forward-looking energy policy that will help secure the nation’s energy supply and economic prosperity.
“Responsibly developing our energy resources on the Outer Continental Shelf in a safe and well-regulated way is important to our economy and energy security, and it provides billions of dollars to fund the conservation of our coastlines, public lands and parks,” said U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
At present, U.S. offshore oil production is about 1.9 million barrels a day, which accounts for about 20 percent of domestic crude production. This production is almost exclusively from the Gulf of Mexico because most of the OCS has been off-limits to energy exploration and development. However, given that global energy demand is expected to increase 30 percent by 2035 and the decade-long process to bring an offshore field online, it is prudent and timely that all U.S. OCS acreage be evaluated for potential exploration and development.
The U.S. OCS is estimated to contain some of the greatest quantities of undiscovered oil and natural gas resources. The department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management estimates undiscovered, technically recoverable OCS resources to be 90 billion barrels of oil and 327 trillion cubic feet of gas. Developing these resources will be vital to advancing the U.S. energy renaissance, growing the economy and reducing government deficits.
Comprehensive studies by Quest Offshore Resources, Inc. indicate that oil and natural gas OCS leasing efforts in the Atlantic, Pacific and Eastern Gulf of Mexico could increase U.S. energy production by 3.5 million barrels of oil equivalent per day by 2035. In addition, the leasing program could create more than 800,000 American jobs and generate $200 billion in government revenue.
The oil and natural gas industry recognizes the need to conduct operations in a safe and environmentally responsible manner. To that end, the energy industry has continued to make advancements in systems and assets integrity, technical standards and regulatory regimes to enhance the safety of offshore operations. Petroleum Equipment & Services Association’s PESA’s member companies have been at the forefront of these efforts, developing the technologies and innovations to drive safety and environmental enhancements across industry operations.
The release of the draft National OCS Program is an early step in a multiyear process to develop a final OCS leasing program. It typically takes two to three years to develop a five-year program, during which successive drafts of the program are published for review and comment. The process involves several rounds of public participation from stakeholders and multiple layers of environmental review.
While all 47 leasing areas are initially examined, some acreages may eventually be withdrawn due to economic or environmental considerations. Once the National OCS Program is finalized, any exploration activity would then go through its own regulatory and public review process. The bottom line is that the development process for the National OCS Program is comprehensive, deliberative and inclusive.
As the national trade association for the oilfield service, supply and manufacturing sector, PESA works in partnership with other trade associations to educate policymakers and advance a smart, practical approach to the development of America’s oil and gas resources. PESA member companies continue to produce technologies and innovations to safely provide the energy needed for our modern lives.
For more information on PESA, visit www.pesa.org.