Offshore Energy Security Act aims to get offshore oil and gas lease sales moving

Written by Marine Log Staff
Senators release Energy Permitting Reform Act of 2024.

Image: Architect of the Capitol

While the Biden administration has been all systems go on offshore wind leasing that’s not been the case with offshore oil and gas lease auctions. Two U.S. senators want to change that. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.), member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) have introduced the Offshore Energy Security Act of 2023. The legislation requires that the Department of the Interior (DOI) to hold two offshore oil and gas lease sales in 2024 and 2025.

“The Biden administration has been slow-walking offshore leases since day one. This helps OPEC+ and puts a smile on Vladimir Putin and Nicholas Maduro’s faces,” said Dr. Cassidy. “What the administration is doing is against the law and increases oil prices to the delight of foreign dictators. We’re working to stop them.”

Despite a legal obligation to maintain an offshore leasing program, says Senator Cassidy, the Biden administration has delayed the finalization of the 5-Year Plan for offshore oil and gas. In doing so, they have publicly acknowledged the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will not start any sale-specific environmental review—which can take up to two years—until the new 5-Year Plan is finalized in December 2023. That means the earliest an offshore oil and gas lease sale is likely to occur is some time in 2026.

In addition to mandating these sales, the bill also defines acreage, stipulates lease terms and conditions, defines which previously finalized environmental reviews will apply to the sales, and ensures that both issued leases and drilling permit applications are not either invalidated, remanded, or delayed as a result of civil litigation.

The Offshore Energy Security Act of 2023:

Mandates two offshore oil and gas lease sales in 2024 and two sales in 2025;
Provides certainty to offshore energy producers to continue investing in the United States; and
Preserves the value of the 5-year offshore leasing program.

The legislation is supported by the National Ocean Industries Association, American Petroleum Institute, Gulf Energy Alliance, Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil & Gas Association (LMOGA).

National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) President Erik Milito issued the following statement :

“NOIA thanks Senators Cassidy and Cruz for their efforts to offer effective energy solutions in Congress. The U.S. Gulf of Mexico plays a vital role as a source of affordable, reliable, and environmentally responsible energy, and its status as a premier energy region is crucial for the overall well-being of our nation. Notably, a growing body of research underscores that U.S. Gulf of Mexico oil production boasts significantly lower emissions compared to most other regions worldwide. Supporting offshore energy, particularly in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, represents a pathway towards sustained American success and should remain a key priority for Congress.

“Moreover, the ongoing and unnecessary gap in the leasing program is needlessly eroding long-term certainty in the Gulf of Mexico. The uncertainty surrounding the region poses a threat to the energy, economic, and environmental benefits that the Gulf has provided to our nation for decades. The Offshore Energy Security Act will effectively address this issue by injecting much-needed certainty and predictability into U.S. energy production. It will facilitate continued opportunities for investment and job creation in the offshore sector and allow the region to remain a dependable low carbon hub of energy production.

“We look forward to continuing to work with Congress in advancing common-sense energy and climate policies.”

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