Today, the Obama administration is offering 39 million acres of the most oil- and gas-rich area of the Gulf of Mexico in order to increase the exploration and production of America’s domestic energy resources. This is a landmark sale – we estimate that up to 1.6 billion barrels of oil and 6.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas could be produced as a result of the acres leased. Holding this lease sale reinforces our commitment to increasing U.S. production, reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil, and incentivizing prompt development of the leases that industry holds.
The bottom line: it’s good news for American jobs, good news for the Gulf economy, and it’s good news for the President’s efforts to expand safe and responsible production of America’s abundant domestic resources.
Despite misleading rhetoric from some, the President has made clear he is committed to expanding oil and natural gas production safely and responsibly, and today’s sale is just the latest example of his administration delivering on that commitment. As part of the President’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, this sale builds on a series of actions taken by the Obama administration, including additional lease sales in both onshore and offshore areas for oil and gas development.
In 2010, we offered 37 million offshore acres for lease, and last year we held a lease sale in the Western Gulf of Mexico that made another 21 million acres available. The total number of active offshore rigs in the United States was higher at the end of April 2012 than the average total in 2009 – the year before the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. And offshore permitting is nearly back to pre-spill levels, with more than 600 offshore permits to drill approved since we put in place historic and comprehensive new standards to ensure we’re developing our abundant resources in a safe and responsible manner.
Onshore, we held more than 30 oil and gas lease sales on America’s public lands covering 4.4 million acres in 2011, and this year we’re holding at least 30 more. Last year, at the President’s direction, we held a lease sale in the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska, and we’ve permitted infrastructure process to help bring Arctic energy to market and create jobs.
And we’re also moving forward with oil and gas activities in the Alaskan Arctic offshore with a proposed oil and gas program for the next five years that cautiously makes frontier areas in the Arctic available for leasing. All in all, the program would offer all offshore areas with high known resource potential for leasing and schedules 15 potential lease sales for the five-year period, including 12 in the Gulf of Mexico and 3 off the coast of Alaska.
The numbers speak for themselves: every year the President has been in office, domestic oil and gas production has increased, foreign imports of oil have decreased, and we are currently producing more oil than any time in eight years. In fact, imports of foreign oil decreased by a million barrels a day in the last year alone.
At the President’s direction, we will continue to take important steps, just as we are doing today in New Orleans, to make resource-rich areas of our public lands and waters available for increased domestic energy development.