Interior Dept. announces draft strategy for offshore oil and gas leasing

As part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to continue to expand safe and responsible domestic energy production, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Abigail Ross Hopper today announced the next step in the development of the nation’s Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022.

The Draft Proposed Program (DPP) includes 14 potential lease sales in eight planning areas – 10 sales in the Gulf of Mexico, three off the coast of Alaska, and one in a portion of the Mid- and South Atlantic.

“The safe and responsible development of our nation’s domestic energy resources is a key part of the President’s efforts to support American jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” said Secretary Jewell. “This is a balanced proposal that would make available nearly 80 percent of the undiscovered technically recoverable resources, while protecting areas that are simply too special to develop.”

Release of the draft is an early step in a multi-year process to develop a final offshore leasing program for 2017-2022. Before the program is finalized, the public will continue to have multiple opportunities to provide input. Today’s draft proposal was informed by more than 500,000 comments from a wide variety of stakeholders and states.

“The draft proposal prioritizes development in the Gulf of Mexico, which is rich in resources and has well-established infrastructure to support offshore oil and gas programs,” added Jewell. “We continue to consider oil and gas exploration in the Arctic and propose for further consideration a new area in the Atlantic Ocean, and we are committed to gathering the necessary science and information to develop resources the right way and in the right places. We look forward to continuing to hear from the public as we work to finalize the proposal.”

The OCS Lands Act requires the Secretary of the Interior to prepare a five-year program that includes a schedule of potential oil and gas lease sales and indicates the size, timing and location of proposed leasing activity as determined to best meet national energy needs, while addressing a range of economic, environmental and social considerations.

BOEM currently manages about 6,000 active OCS leases, covering more than 32 million acres – the vast majority in the Gulf of Mexico. In 2013, OCS oil and gas leases accounted for about 18 percent of domestic oil production and 5 percent of domestic natural gas production. This production generates billions of dollars in revenue for state and local governments and the U.S. taxpayer, while supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs.

The Draft Proposed Program and the Notice of Intent to Develop a Draft Environmental Impact Statement will be available for public comment for 60 days following the publication of the documents in the Federal Register.

For more information, including maps, please visit: http://www.boem.gov/Five-Year-Program/