WASHINGTON – Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne today announced a major federal initiative to boost oil and natural gas production on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf in the Gulf of Mexico and off Alaska. The program could produce 10 billion barrels of oil and 45 trillion cubic feet of natural gas over 40 years, generating almost $170 billion, in today’s dollars, in net benefits for the Nation.
“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.”
Interior’s Minerals Management Service developed the initiative, known as the Five Year Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program, to guide domestic energy leasing on the OCS from 2007 to 2012. The program proposes 21 lease sales in 8 planning areas. Twelve sales are slated for the Gulf of Mexico, 8 off of Alaska and, at the request of the Commonwealth of Virginia, one in the Mid-Atlantic Planning Area, about 50 miles off the coast of southern Virginia.
Kempthorne noted that revenues from OCS energy production are shared with coastal states adjacent to OCS energy production. “This proposal will provide hundreds of millions of dollars of new revenue for states to pay for roads, bridges, environmental restoration and other critical needs,” he said. “Outer Continental Shelf energy revenues also support historic preservation and environmental conservation projects in all states through the Historic Preservation Fund and Land and Water Conservation Fund.”
The full proposal is available here. More on this later.
UPDATE (5:15 p.m.): Later, it is now. From the NAM’s news release:
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 30, 2007 — The National Association of Manufacturers today commended the Department of Interior’s Five Year Lease plan increasing access to domestic energy supplies along portions of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), but warned that more could 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.”
UPDATE (5:20 p.m.): Good, straightforward story by Reuters. We note the 50-mile buffer off the coast of Virginia.
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