Opinion: Point - Offshore energy is critical to future energy security

February 5, 2018

Offshore development plays a critical role in U.S. energy security, supplying more than 1 million barrels of oil per day for the last 20 years. And that's with 94 percent of federal offshore acreage closed to exploration. Imagine how much more natural gas and oil we could develop if additional coastal resources were accessible.

If the Trump administration's proposed offshore expansion becomes reality, we won't have to imagine. The estimated 90 billion barrels of oil and 327 trillion cubic feet of natural gas awaiting discovery on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf could be recovered and injected into our economy. Opening additional areas in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic could generate hundreds of thousands of jobs and lead to production gains of more than a million barrels of oil equivalent per day - further reducing supply from overseas sources.

Critics are portraying the Interior Department's proposal to make additional offshore areas available for leasing as unique. In reality, it's keeping offshore resources locked away that makes the United States an outlier. China and Russia are active in the Arctic, and nations like Canada, Brazil, Cuba, the Bahamas and Nigeria are all moving forward with offshore exploration in the Atlantic - while our own Atlantic energy potential is sidelined.

It's been more than 30 years since the U.S. has conducted seismic research - which helps locate offshore resources - in the Atlantic. With today's cutting-edge exploration technology and advanced production methods, resource potential in the Atlantic could be even more abundant than estimated. When modern technology was deployed in the Gulf of Mexico, the true amount of recoverable oil resources was revised upward by almost 40 billion barrels compared to calculations made in 1987.

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