WASHINGTON, DC — Tomorrow, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar will travel to New Orleans to hold a major oil and gas lease sale covering more than 21 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico that are currently not leased. This is the latest step by the Administration to meet a series of directives announced by President Obama in May 2011, which included additional lease sales, certain offshore lease extensions, and steps to streamline permitting, all towards the President’s goal of expanding safe and responsible domestic oil and gas production. Last week, as part of this effort, the Department of the Interior held a lease sale that covered over 140,000 acres in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska.
Since 2008, domestic oil and gas production has continued to increase, with total U.S. crude oil production higher in 2010 than in any year since 2003. In May, President Obama announced additional steps his Administration would undertake to continue to expand responsible and safe domestic oil production, leveraging existing authorities as part of his long-term plan to reduce our reliance on foreign oil.
In addition to tomorrow’s Gulf of Mexico sale and last week’s National Petroleum Reserve sale, the strategy outlined by the President in May included extending certain offshore leases in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska, creating a new interagency working group to coordinate energy permitting in Alaska, incentivizing industry to develop their unused leases, and expediting evaluation of oil and gas resources in the mid and south Atlantic. As of today, all of those major steps have or are being implemented by the Obama Administration.
The Department of the Interior estimates that tomorrow’s lease sale could result in the production of 222 to 423 million barrels of oil and 1.49 to 2.65 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. In the last two years, oil production from the federal OCS has increased by more than a third, from 446 million barrels in 2008 to an estimated more than 600 million barrels in 2010. In fact, the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) projects that U.S. crude oil production increased by roughly 200,000 barrels per day in 2011, and expects a similar increase in 2012.
The Administration continues to focus on ensuring that as we expand domestic oil and gas production, it is done safely. That is why, following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Administration put in place unprecedented safety reforms for offshore drilling, working with industry to improve practices and oversight while also continuing oil and gas production. Since new safety standards were put into place, the Administration has approved 97 shallow water permits in the Gulf of Mexico, and 211 permits for activities at 60 deepwater wells – all of which meet these important new safety standards.
The President’s May, 2011 announcement of steps to increase responsible domestic oil production is available here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/05/13/weekly-address-president-obama-announces-new-plans-increase-responsible-\