Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced the Proposed Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017, which makes more than 75% of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and gas resources estimated in federal offshore areas available for exploration and development.
The Proposed Program 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 (GOM) and 3 off the coast of Alaska, and none off of either the Pacific or Atlantic coasts.
|Alaska program areas. Click to enlarge.|| :||Lower 48 program areas. Click to enlarge.|
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, the Department of the Interior (DOI) noted.
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.
|Using a play-based assessment methodology, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management estimated a mean of 88.6 billion barrels of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and mean of 398.4 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered technically recoverable natural gas in the Federal Outer Continental Shelf of the United States.|
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.
The OCS Lands Act requires that the Secretary of the Interior prepare a 5-year program that includes a schedule of oil and gas lease sales and indicates the size, timing and location of proposed leasing activity as determined by the Secretary to best meet national energy needs for the 5-year period following its approval, while addressing a range of economic, environmental and social considerations.
DOI said that the Proposed Program is consistent with the Obama Administration’s Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future, which aims to promote domestic energy security and reduce oil imports by a third by 2025 through a comprehensive national energy policy.