Department Of Interior Unveils Program To Expand Oil, Gas Production On OCS

Proposed program could produce 10 billion barrels of oil and 45 trillion cubic feet of natural gas over 40 years; NAM commends proposal but suggests even more energy investment is needed to help American manufacturers meet global competition.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne on Monday announced a major federal initiative to boost oil and natural gas production on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) in the Gulf of Mexico and off Alaska that has the potential to produce 10 billion barrels of oil and 45 trillion cubic feet of natural gas over 40 years, generating almost $170 billion in net benefits for the country.

“The Outer Continental Shelf is a vital source of domestic oil and natural gas for America, especially in light of sharply rising energy prices and increasing demand for these resources,” Kempthorne said. “This energy production will create jobs, provide greater economic and energy security for America and can be accomplished in a safe and environmentally sound manner.”

The initiative, the Five Year Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program, was developed by the Interior’s Minerals Management Service and will guide domestic energy leasing on the OCS from 2007 to 2012.

The program proposes 21 lease sales in 8 planning areas with 12 sales for the Gulf of Mexico, 8 off of Alaska and, one in the Mid-Atlantic Planning Area, about 50 miles off the coast of southern Virginia.

The Five Year Lease plan was also lauded by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) who approved of the program to increase access to domestic energy supplies along portions of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), although they warned that more should be done to ensure America’s energy security and competitiveness.

“We cannot fuel our country without sound energy policies, including increasing access to domestic energy supplies in the OCS,” said NAM President John Engler “Safely developing the abundant supply of oil and natural gas in the OCS is a step in the right direction, but further investment and development in energy efficiency and other energy resources is critical for job growth and price stability.”

“Manufacturing requires adequate and affordable energy prices – to fuel factories, ship products, and manufacturer consumer goods,” Engler added. “Historically high energy rates and rising consumer demands are crippling manufacturers, large and small, facing fierce global competition. It’s in the best interest of our nation, our manufacturers, and our consumers to lay a sound foundation of energy sustainability.”

Click here to view the complete proposed Five Year Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program.