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Responsibly Expanding America’s Offshore Energy Development

Two years removed from the spill, the Gulf of Mexico is back in business.

In recent weeks, the Department of the Interior announced a key component of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy: a five-year program for offshore oil and gas leasing that will allow our nation to expand safe and responsible oil and gas development to help power our economy.  The five year program, which we developed after extensive input from the public, states, tribes, and others, makes more than 75% of recoverable energy resources in our oceans available for exploration and development – including frontier areas in the Alaskan Arctic. At the same time, we are also taking steps to identify additional resources in currently undeveloped areas to inform future development decisions.

The five year program we are implementing builds on the President’s strong record on oil and gas development. Nationwide, domestic oil and natural gas production has increased every year President Obama has been in office. In 2011, American oil production reached the highest level in nearly a decade and natural gas production reached an all-time high. America’s dependence on foreign oil has gone down every single year since President Obama took office. We have cut net imports by ten percent – a million barrels a day – in the last year alone.  At the same time, we have implemented comprehensive reforms in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that has made offshore development safer and more responsible.

Under the administration’s five year program, we have delivered what the American people have asked for: a smart way forward that focuses on the areas that contain the overwhelming majority of the resources rather than simply opening areas for the sake of achieving an imaginary acreage threshold.

And it’s only part of the progress we’ve made at the President’s direction to expand development of our domestic energy resources on public lands and waters in the past three years.

The Obama administration has overseen an overall expansion of production on federal lands and waters – as part of the nationwide rise in production levels. Total federal oil production (offshore and onshore) has increased by 13 percent during the first three years of the Obama administration combined, compared with the last three years of the previous administration. Offshore production alone has been higher or level in the past three years compared with production volumes from 2006-2008 – according to the EIA.

Two years removed from the spill, the Gulf of Mexico is back in business.

  • 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.
  • Since our historic new safety standards were put into place, the pace of permitting is back at pre-spill levels
  • Since our new standards were put into place, the Administration has approved nearly 700 permits for activities at hundreds of wells in the Gulf of Mexico alone. We continue to make millions of offshore acres available to industry.
  • Just last month, DOI offered nearly 39 million acres for lease in the Central Gulf of Mexico, generating $1.7 billion in high bids for tracts covering more than 2.4 million acres in the most resource-rich areas of the Gulf of Mexico.
  • In December, DOI offered more than 21 million acres for lease in the Western Gulf of Mexico – equal to an area the size of South Carolina.

All these are ways this administration continues to deliver on the President’s goal of expanding production of our domestic resources, while ensuring that as we continue to leverage more oil and natural gas it is done safely and responsibly.