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Exploration & Production

The U.S. is the world’s leading oil and natural gas producer, thanks to the American energy renaissance. Without access to our nation’s vast oil and gas resources and technological advances in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, this would not be a reality. Increased output here at home has made the U.S. stronger economically and also increased America’s security in the world. A number of policies and actions would support America’s continued energy progress – none more important than increasing access to oil and natural gas reserves in federally-controlled areas, both onshore and offshore.

According to a report by the Congressional Research Service, between 2010 and 2015 the percentage of the nation’s crude oil produced on federal lands has decreased from 35.7 percent to 21 percent. Why? Because short-sighted regulations that limit access to our nation’s oil and gas resources hinder energy development. A consistent, forward-thinking regulatory framework that prioritizes regularly scheduled lease sales is necessary to enhance U.S. energy security and maintain America’s position as a global energy superpower.

The number of issued federal onshore drilling permits fell 47 percent from 2008 to 2015, according to the Bureau of Land Management. Offshore, the Obama administration’s move to withdraw tens of millions of acres from development in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans means that 94 percent of federally-controlled offshore acreage would be off limits to energy development. Alaska is home to some of the largest oil and natural gas reserves in the United States. An estimated 30 percent of the nation’s known recoverable offshore resources are in Alaska’s waters. However, 61 percent of Alaska’s land is controlled by the federal government, which has created one obstacle after another to energy development. Even promising areas specifically established under federal policy as energy development zones remain largely off limits.

Increasing access to onshore and offshore energy reserves is essential to extend the benefits of America’s energy renaissance, helping consumers, manufacturers and the environment; all while ensuring a secure, stable supply of the energy we depend on every day.

API Resources:


A Federal Leasing and Development Ban Threatens America’s Energy Security and Economic Growth, Undermines Environmental Progress

Energy produced on federal lands and waters plays a critical role in America’s energy revolution, accounting for 12% of U.S. natural gas production and nearly a quarter of U.S. oil production.

According to a new OnLocation analysis, The Consequences of a Leasing and Development Ban on Federal Lands and Waters (Sept. 2020), U.S. energy leadership could be at stake if a federal leasing and development ban is enacted.*

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Offshore Energy Supports U.S. Economy, Funds Conservation Programs

Safe and responsible offshore energy development could bring high-paying jobs, spur new manufacturing and investment, and generate new revenues for state and local governments, especially if new offshore areas are opened for exploration.

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U.S. Gulf of Mexico Leasing and Fiscal Policy Enhancements

A Crystol Energy report examines government policies that could enhance the competitiveness of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico as a development investment versus other resource basins around the world. The Central and Western Gulf areas are maturing reserves whose attractiveness to investors could be helped by policy changes.

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The Economic Impacts of Allowing Access to the Atlantic OCS and Eastern Gulf of Mexico

The economic impacts of allowing access to the Atlantic OCS and Eastern Gulf of Mexico for oil and natural gas exploration and development supplement: Projected state, local and federal tax receipts, prepared by Calash.

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Explore Offshore

Exploring offshore energy could mean increased jobs, investments, and reliable and affordable energy. Learn more about its positive impact and our coalition of businesses, manufacturers, and associations on

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Economic Offshore Development Virginia Study

In 2018, API commissioned Mangum Economics to prepare a study on the economic and fiscal contribution that the development of offshore oil and natural gas resources could make to the Virginia Beach Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). 

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New Economic Studies on Offshore Energy Development

In 2017, API commissioned a series of regional economic studies by Calash and Northern Economics to provide independent evaluations of the potential impacts of the development of America’s offshore oil and natural gas resources in the OCS, if the current restrictions were lifted.

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Offshore Energy Development Co-Exists With Military Activities

Offshore energy development has co-existed in the Gulf of Mexico with military activities, tourism industry, commercial fishing industry, and coastal communities’ activities for over fifty years. The Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Department of Defense (DOD) have decades of experience in working together to facilitate the needs of both departments, including current procedures which adequately allow for military activities and offshore oil and gas development. An integral part of the DOI’s process for developing the five-year National Offshore Leasing Plan is to solicit input from the DOD on the level of compatibility between future military activities and areas where oil and natural gas occur in order for safe offshore development to move forward.

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Seismic Surveying: 80 Years of Safety and Success

For the last eighty years, seismic surveying has been used successfully and safely to cultivate important data on underground geologic structures – both onshore and offshore. While seismic surveys are used by renewable energy companies, academia, and the government, the natural gas and oil industry relies on seismic surveying to help identify potential resources beneath the ocean floor. Additionally, there is no evidence that seismic surveying adversely affects marine mammals or their environment. To learn more about the process, how marine life is protected and a myth vs fact section, please read our “Seismic Surveying One-Pager.”

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More Exploration and Production Information

Exploration is the process of trying to find accumulations of oil and natural gas trapped under the Earth’s surface. Production is the process of recovering those hidden resources for processing, marketing and use. Access to oil and natural gas resources is critical to supplying the energy needs of American consumers, business and homeowners. For more information, see Oil & Natural Gas/Exploration and Production.

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