API finds flaws in Biden administration’s new offshore leasing plan
WASHINGTON, August 23, 2023 – The American Petroleum Institute (API) released the following statement from API Vice President of Upstream Policy Holly Hopkins, in response to the Department of the Interior Bureau of Ocean Management (BOEM) Final Notice of Sale for Lease Sale 261:
“While the Department of the Interior announced a much-needed offshore lease sale today, the Biden administration continues to throw up roadblock after roadblock to American energy production, prioritizing their campaign promise to stop American oil and natural gas development in federal waters over their duty to meet Americans’ energy needs.
“With this announcement, the administration is removing more than 10 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico and adding new and unjustified restrictions on oil and gas vessels operating in this area, amounting to a lease sale in name only. These restrictions are not supported by the record and target the men and women of the oil and natural gas industry operating in this region, ignoring all other vessel traffic.
“Today’s announcement leaves American energy developers in a period of extended uncertainty, with no future offshore lease sales scheduled. This action defies Congress’s mandate in the Inflation Reduction Act, jeopardizes U.S. energy security and violates the Biden administration’s energy obligations to the American people.”
For 45 years, the Interior Department has been required to prepare a five-year offshore leasing program that will best meet America’s energy needs for the ensuing five-year period, detailing a schedule for regular oil and natural gas lease sales, including in the Gulf of Mexico.
It has been more than one year since the Department of the Interior allowed the five-year program for federal offshore oil and natural gas leasing to lapse with no immediate replacement. The Gulf of Mexico produces some of the lowest carbon intensity barrels in the world. Constrained production in this basin could be replaced by higher carbon intensity barrels from elsewhere in the world.
According to the U.S. EIA, Gulf of Mexico federal offshore oil production accounts for 15% of total U.S. crude oil production. Federal offshore natural gas production in the Gulf accounts for 5% of total U.S. dry production.
An agreement announced last month proposed operating “recommendations” would impose significant burdens on operators and increase emissions from vessels forced to operate at suboptimal speeds or idle outside the restriction areas.
Adopting the nighttime and low visibility restrictions could cut transit windows to approximately 50%– requiring industry to balance the government’s recommended practices against safely and efficiently servicing ongoing operations.
These restrictions would unfairly single out oil and gas traffic in an area that is one of the most used maritime areas in U.S. waters by a variety of industries. Thousands of vessels pass through this area every day.