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WASHINGTON D.C.-Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar yesterday announced the Proposed Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017, which 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 Horizontragedy and the reforms that we have implemented to make offshore drilling safer and more environmentally responsible.”
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, released the following statement in response to the Leasing plan. She said, “The lease sales the administration has proposed in the coming five years are a positive sign for our energy security. While the administration has not opened any new areas to leasing, I’m encouraged that they are moving forward with offering sales in both the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. Leasing is only half the story, however. The permitting process will be the determining factor as to whether these lease sales are ultimately successful or not,” Murkowski said. “Any company interested in exploring for oil and gas off the coast of Alaska must have a reasonable expectation that the permitting process will be robust but with a timeline that is not unreasonable. We can’t expect companies to invest billions of dollars and then subject them to a permitting process that drags on for years with no end in sight.”
In response to the lease, Senator Mark Begich responded, “For nearly three years, my message to the Obama Administration is that as America’s energy storehouse, our state can and should responsibly supply a significant portion of our country’s energy needs. I’m pleased they are hearing our message. The steady progress of approvals for exploring existing leases in the Beaufort and Chukchi has been encouraging, and the lease sales in the next five-year program announced today build on that progress.” He continued by stating, “The energy and the jobs this development will produce won’t happen overnight. I’ll remain aggressive in pushing the administration to do the right thing – to expedite Alaska energy development.”
Representative Don Young weighed in as well on the lease, he had this to say, “While today’s announcement by the Obama Administration seems to be a step in the right direction, it is important to remember that there’s more than meets the eye. In reality this plan is simple; it removes lease sales approved under the Bush Administration and punts decisions that need to be made now down the road. If the Obama Administration is truly serious about OCS development, then we would not be seeing the continual delays for companies that already have leases.” He went further stating, “There are companies investing billions of dollars that have been waiting for years to just explore their leases in the Arctic, yet time and time again the Obama Administration is standing in their way. I stand with most Alaskans, who are ready and willing to help to fuel this country; it’s time the President follow through on his promise of developing a comprehensive energy plan that will put us on a path to becoming energy independent.”
The schedule includes a special interest sale in Cook Inlet’s federal waters in 2013 provided there is sufficient interest. It has one lease sale in the Beaufort Sea scheduled for 2015 and a Chukchi Sea sale in 2016.