Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted May 20, 2016
Near year’s end the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is scheduled to release its offshore oil and natural gas leasing program for 2017-2022.
For more than a year BOEM has methodically worked to craft a program that will blueprint offshore development into the next decade and beyond, developing drafts, receiving comments from the public as well as inputs from elected officials in affected states.
With the United States emerging as the world’s leading producer of oil and natural gas, planning America’s offshore oil and gas development has never been more important. The United States must have an offshore oil and natural gas program that reflects America’s energy superpower status.
Posted May 11, 2016
Some points for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to consider when it meets next week to review the Obama administration’s proposed 2017-2022 program for offshore oil and natural gas leasing.
First, offshore oil and natural gas production historically has played a major role in overall U.S. energy output. In 2010 more than 30 percent of U.S. oil and 11 percent of U.S. natural gas was produced in the Gulf of Mexico. So, while it’s great that the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that Gulf production will increase to record high levels in 2017, every American must recognize that reaching record Gulf output next year would result because of leasing decisions made a decade or more ago.
In that context, let’s be clear: The federal offshore leasing program must reflect energy leadership and vision, and it must be focused on fostering opportunity. It must not reduce America’s offshore energy potential by keeping key offshore areas off the table for development.
Posted April 27, 2016
BOEM’s DC meeting that followed others this month in New Orleans, Houston and a number of localities in Alaska, was an information smorgasbord. They had a video overview of the methodology in developing the leasing program that will guide offshore energy development from 2017 to 2022. They also had a number of tables with printed handouts, where BOEM staffers were available to talk about topics ranging from protected species to the human environment to acoustics in the water.
I asked a staffer if it was possible that someone knowing little to nothing about offshore energy and leasing could wander into BOEM’s meeting, watch the video, absorb the information handouts, talk to BOEM representatives and then submit an informed comment on the leasing proposal. “Yes,” he said. Neat.
BOEM had a number of laptops set up to receive electronic comments. I submitted mine the old-fashioned way, writing them out longhand on a form. I labored to print legibly.
Certainly, BOEM has been meticulous in developing its proposed leasing program. The final version that will come out early next year will say a lot about U.S. energy leadership and vision and the future of American energy. That’s how critically important our offshore reserves are.
Posted March 2, 2016
Last year, when federal officials released the proposal for the next five-year offshore drilling plan, we said the draft had some positive aspects but fell short of the kind of strategic offshore planning that would adequately serve America’s role as an energy superpower. We also noted strong support for offshore development by mid-Atlantic states, where operations could occur under the draft plan.
Fast-forward to this month, with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) expected to reassess a plan that would be the blueprint for offshore energy development from 2017 through 2022. The need for a robust offshore leasing plan remains critically important – and the plan should retain the single Atlantic lease sale that was included in BOEM’s draft.
Posted August 20, 2015
Some observations on this week’s federal oil and natural gas lease sale in the Western Gulf of Mexico, reported with alarm by some media outlets because it wasn’t as large as other recent sales.
First, every lease sale is welcome. Access to U.S. offshore reserves represents opportunity for energy development, job creation, economic growth and greater American energy security. We need more offshore opportunities to support the strategic, long-term energy security of the United States – advanced by a robust offshore energy sector.
Posted April 30, 2015
It’s noteworthy that there’s bipartisanship in Congress on offshore energy development. Last week a group of Republican U.S. House and Senate members signed onto a letter urging the Interior Department to increase access to energy reserves on the nation’s outer continental shelf. It follows a March 26 letter from Virginia’s two Democratic senators and a March 27 letter from a dozen House Democrats supporting offshore energy development.
Bipartisanship in Washington is quite a rare bird, so it’s significant to see it form around the need to develop domestic offshore energy.
Equally important: Strongly worded concern from the most recent letter’s signers that the draft 2017-2022 plan for oil and natural gas leasing offered by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management not be weakened by removing any of the leasing areas in the proposal.
Posted April 24, 2015
Last summer we posted on the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s gentle pushback against various voices that objected to BOEM’s decision to allow safe, carefully regulated seismic testing to map offshore energy reserves in the Atlantic. The pushback apparently prompted some pushback, because last month BOEM reasserted the facts on safe seismic in its online “Science Notes” feature.
As was the case last August, BOEM Chief Environmental Officer William Y. Brown weighed in:
In August 2014, BOEM published a Science Note addressing a few fundamentals about impacts of seismic air gun surveys on marine mammal populations. … BOEM's conclusion regarding the impact of these surveys is in stark contrast with public statements citing BOEM research and asserting that many thousands of marine mammals will be killed or injured through these surveys. For example, one web posting states that “Seismic air gun testing currently being proposed in the Atlantic will injure 138,000 whales and dolphins and disturb millions more, according to government estimates.” This characterization of our conclusion, however, is not accurate; that is actually not what we estimate.
Posted April 20, 2015
A couple of important points on Arctic energy development from U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska at an event hosted recently by CSIS:
- The biggest obstacle to U.S. development of its Arctic energy reserves is the U.S.
- Development of Arctic energy resources will occur regardless of whether the United States engages in it.
- A discussion of Arctic energy must give weight to the needs and concerns of Alaskans, many of whom directly depend on energy development for the quality of their lives.
Posted April 1, 2015
News that the Interior Department has reaffirmed Shell’s right to drill in the Chukchi Sea off the Alaskan coast is an important step toward to Arctic energy development. While the company still must secure individual drilling permits and overall federal approval of its exploration plan, this week’s action advances the larger objective of safe and responsible development of an extremely valuable energy reserve. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell:
“The Arctic is an important component of the Administration’s national energy strategy, and we remain committed to taking a thoughtful and balanced approach to oil and gas leasing and exploration offshore Alaska.”
The oil and natural gas industry agrees. In official comments to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), API and seven other industry-related associations argue that developing Arctic oil and natural gas off the coast of Alaska is essential to U.S. energy security. It’s also vital to the “long-term viability” of the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline System that connects Alaskan energy with the Lower 48. Developing Arctic energy is one of the keys to a robust offshore leasing program, which the federal government is drawing up right now.
Posted March 31, 2015
There are a number of main points in official comments submitted by API and seven other energy industry groups to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) on its draft offshore oil and natural gas leasing program for the 2017-2022 time period.
Given how much offshore acreage was excluded from the proposed draft, BOEM should not remove any areas proposed in the draft from the final lease plan, the associations write. The government is missing key opportunities to harness U.S. offshore energy in the Atlantic, eastern Gulf of Mexico and off Alaska, as other countries are implementing robust offshore development programs. Energy development on the outer continental shelf (OCS) would generate significant job and economic benefits to the U.S., and industry continues to press ahead with technological, safety and environmental protection improvements – all designed to foster increased safety in offshore operations.
The comments are among those being collected by BOEM before it finalizes the five-year leasing program later this year. The leasing plan is a blueprint for offshore development; areas not listed in it won’t be offered for lease 2017 to 2022. Given the 10 to 15 years needed to develop offshore oil and natural gas – from the time the lease is sold to production – the federal plan is critically important.