Posts Tagged ‘active leases’

Of the 1.7 billion acres of Federal land on the US Outer Continental Shelf, only about 73 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico and 1 million acres in the Cook Inlet may be offered for oil and gas leasing. Official or de facto exclusions prohibit leasing in the entire US Atlantic, the entire US Pacific, all Alaska areas except the Cook Inlet, and most of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. No other coastal nation has restricted access to oil and gas resources to this extent.

As demonstrated in recent sales, many of the tracts being offered have little or no production potential. Only 308 tracts (1.7 million acres) received bids in GoM Sale 257. 94 of the high bids were for sequestration purposes and were arguably invalid. Sale 258 in the Cook Inlet only received a single bid.

The number of active leases, currently 2153, has been at a historically low level for the past 2 years. Only 0.7% of our OCS is leased and thus open to exploration. 26% (552) of these leases are already producing, leaving a historically low number of nonproducing leases.

Oil is where you find it, not where you wish it was or want it to be. Denying access to all but a small portion of the OCS limits exploration strategies and prevents publicly owned resources from supporting our economy in the manner intended by the OCS Lands Act.

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OCS Lands Act, 43 U.S. Code § 1332 – Congressional declaration of policy

(3) the outer Continental Shelf is a vital national resource reserve held by the Federal Government for the public, which should be made available for expeditious and orderly development, subject to environmental safeguards, in a manner which is consistent with the maintenance of competition and other national needs;

Current reality:

  • International energy markets (and consumers) are under stress
  • US is withdrawing 1 million BOPD from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve
  • Very limited access to offshore land for oil and gas operations
  • 182 lease sales since 1954, but none since 2020
  • Gulf of Mexico operations history
    • 55,000 wells drilled
    • 23 billion bbls of oil produced
    • 192 trillion cu ft of gas produced
  • Gulf of Mexico – current status
    • Oil production remains relatively stable (1.7 million BOPD) owing to past deepwater discoveries
    • Drilling is at historic low levels – only 31 well starts YTD (5/4/2022), only 8 of which were deepwater exploratory wells
    • Current levels of production are not sustainable without new leases and increased exploration



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