With the federal government restricting access to traditional oil and natural gas plays, resources from emerging shale plays are picking up some of the slack, said the head of the American Petroleum Institute (API).

Shale deposits are being found “in places like North Dakota, where the Bakken Shale region is one of our fastest growing oil producing areas,” and in Pennsylvania, Texas, Arkansas, Colorado and Northern Louisiana, “where vast shale gas deposits are now being unlocked by pairing the long-established practice of hydraulic fracturing with technological advances in directional drilling,” API President Jack Gerard told the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association in New Orleans Thursday.

“We…have unconventional shale oil reserves that could last generations. The Department of Energy says Colorado, Utah and Wyoming contain shale oil deposits equal to more than three times the proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia,” he said.

“A Penn State study projects that as Marcellus Shale development is expanded, an additional 280,000 jobs could be created by 2020. Continued development of the Barnett Shale in Texas and the Haynesville Shale here in Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas could add thousands more. Another 100,000 new jobs, most in the West, could flow from increased shale oil development, a National Center for Policy Analysis report says. And developing the oil and gas in federal areas now off limits could produce well over 500,000 jobs in 2030, according to a recent Wood Mackenzie study,” he said.

“America has ample supplies of oil and natural gas…There are at least 70 years of oil and more than a century’s worth of natural gas recoverable in the United States. This is just what we know now,” Gerard noted.

“And that is a good thing because there is no question that we will continue to use oil and gas. For all the promise of renewable energy — which we are also helping to develop — oil and natural gas will remain our energy mainstays for decades,” Gerard said.

While shale development has been promising, development of the offshore hasn’t. “Lease sales have been delayed or canceled, and this year, for the first time since 1957, we may not have a single offshore lease sale. It would be the first time since 1965 with no Gulf lease sale,” he noted.

“Projects planned for the Chukchi Sea in Alaska are still on hold because of the administration’s failure to perform needed environmental analysis or issue permits. Industry-funded seismic studies have been delayed. Leases in Utah have been canceled. Leases in Montana have been suspended. Research and development leases in Colorado and Utah have been postponed. [And] oil shale regulations have needlessly been sent back through the rulemaking process,” Gerard said.

“A new bureaucratic process has been put in place [at the Interior Department] that will place additional onshore domestic resources off-limits and add delays to the leasing process. And, as all of you know better than anyone, permitting in the Gulf has slowed to a crawl.”