Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has announced a Proposed Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017. It makes more than 75 percent of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and gas resources estimated in federal offshore areas available for exploration and development.
The Proposed Program, which is in line with President Obama's direction to continue to expand safe and responsible domestic production, includes six offshore areas where there are currently active leases and exploration, and where there is known or anticipated hydrocarbon potential.
It schedules 15 potential lease sales for the 2012-2017 period – 12 in the Gulf of Mexico and three off the coast of Alaska.
"Expanding safe and responsible oil and gas production from the OCS is a key component of our comprehensive energy strategy to grow America's energy economy, and will help us continue to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and create jobs here at home," said Secretary Salazar. "This five-year program will make available for development more than three-quarters of undiscovered oil and gas resources estimated on the OCS, including frontier areas such as the Arctic, where we must proceed cautiously, safely and based on the best science available."
The Proposed Program will promote safe and responsible domestic energy production by offering substantial acreage for lease in regions with known potential for oil and gas development.
"This proposal recognizes the need to proceed carefully and in a manner that protects human safety, coastal areas, and the environment," said Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Tommy P. Beaudreau. "This Proposed Program both promotes responsible development and is informed by lessons learned from the Deepwater Horizon tragedy and the reforms that we have implemented to make offshore drilling safer and more environmentally responsible."
The Proposed Program also reflects the need for a regionally tailored approach to offshore development that accounts for issues such as current knowledge of resource potential, adequacy of infrastructure including oil spill response capabilities, and the need for a balanced approach to our use of natural resources. The majority of lease sales are scheduled for areas in the Gulf of Mexico, where resource potential and interest is greatest and where infrastructure is most mature.
"A key part of safe and responsible development of our oil and gas resources is recognizing that different environments and communities require different approaches and technologies. In Alaska and off its coast, the Proposed Program recommends that the current inventory of already-leased areas in the Arctic should be expanded only after additional evaluations have been completed, and in a manner that accounts for the Arctic's unique environmental resources and the social, cultural, and subsistence needs of Native Alaskan communities," said Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes.
The Proposed Program includes lease sales in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, but the single sales are scheduled late in the 5-year period to facilitate further scientific study and data collection, and longer term planning for spill response preparedness and infrastructure. The proposal suggests that any lease sales in the Arctic be tailored to protect sensitive environmental resources, including those accessed by Native Alaskans for subsistence uses.
For more information on the proposed program, go to: http://www.boem.gov/uploadedFiles/5-Year_Program_Factsheet.pdf.
The Proposed Program will be open for significant public comment and consideration. Following public comment and review periods for the proposed program, as well as the accompanying Draft Environmental Impact Statement, a Proposed Final Program (PFP) and a Final EIS will be submitted to the President and Congress.
November 9, 2011