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Billions in Revenue, New Jobs Seen from Opening Restricted Atlantic, Pacific and Eastern GOM Regions

Offshore oil and natural gas leasing in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico (GOM) and the U.S. Atlantic and Pacific coasts -- areas now almost entirely off limits to development -- could raise more than $200 billion in revenue and create nearly 840,000 jobs by 2035 if leasing were to begin in 2018, researchers said Wednesday.

Quest Offshore prepared the economic studies on the Eastern GOM and Pacific Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) for the National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) and the American Petroleum Institute (API). The two reports follow Quest's research issued last year, which estimated similar impacts from opening access to the Atlantic OCS concerning employment and government revenue that might be realized by opening access to the restricted areas nationally and on a regional/state level.

"The oil and natural gas industry is a rare bright spot in our economy," API Director of Upstream Erik Milito said of the reports' conclusions. "The ability to safely develop new offshore resources is critical to America's continued energy security and job growth."

If the federal government were to begin holding lease sales beginning in 2018, by 2035 the researchers estimated:

  • Pacific OCS could see 330,000-plus jobs and $81 billion in revenue;
  • Eastern GOM could have nearly 230,000 jobs and $69 billion; and
  • Atlantic OCS development could create nearly 280,000 jobs and raise $51 billion in government revenue.

Parts of the areas researched could be included in the Department of Interior's 2017-2022 OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program now under review (see Daily GPIJune 13). Interior in July approved seismic surveys off the Atlantic Coast, paving the way for possible drilling off of the East Coast within a few years (see Daily GPIJuly 21). In August, trade associations including API and NOIA urged Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to make new areas of the Atlantic, Pacific and Eastern GOM available for leasing in the next five-year program (see Daily GPIAug. 14).

"Polling shows that 70% of voters in this year's midterm elections support offshore drilling, and 57% do not think the federal government does enough to encourage domestic oil and natural gas production," said Milito. "The next offshore leasing program is an opportunity for the Obama administration to let those voters know their voices are being heard."

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