Posts Tagged ‘OCS oil and gas program’

Opinions on Jimmy Carter’s presidency vary, but he merits praise for his administration of the OCS program from 1/1977 to 1/1981. Carter oversaw an active leasing program in all OCS regions. On the operations side, he appointed Don Kash to head the Conservation Division of the US Geological Survey, the OCS regulator at the time. Dr. Kash was an outstanding leader and a gifted communicator and program manager.

Some of the Carter administration’s impressive accomplishments during his 4 year term:

  • 15 lease sales including 3 offshore Alaska, 3 in the Atlantic, and 1 offshore California
  • Drilling activity in all 4 regions: GoM, Pacific, Alaska, and Atlantic
  • Natural gas discovery in the Mid Atlantic (Hudson Canyon Unit)
  • North, Mid, and South Atlantic District offices for permitting and inspections
  • 5300 well starts including 97 in water depths > 1000′
  • 314 new platforms including Cognac, the world’s first platform in > 1000′ of water
  • Comprehensive amendments to the OCS Lands Act (1978)
  • Annual natural gas production reached nearly 5 tcf (approximately 6 times current OCS gas production)
  • Annual oil production was approximately 1/2 current levels which is impressive given that the deepwater era was just beginning and shelf wells had relatively low productivity.

Thank you Jimmy. I hope you are resting comfortably with your family during your final days.

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The Nord Stream sabotage likely released more methane than the complete lifecycle of a GoM lease sale (upstream and downstream). Also, the Nord Stream explosions may have released more methane than is emitted by all US offshore producers in an entire year. Here are the numbers:

Source of MethaneCH4 emissions (1000s of tons)
Nord Stream (probable range)100-400
Nord Stream (maximum)500
Nord Stream – first 48 hrs (CAMS est)175
all US offshore production in 2020 (EPA)193
all US on- and offshore exploration in 2020 (EPA)12
lifecycle upstream emissions from a typical GoM lease sale (BOEM)118
lifecycle up- and downstream emissions from a typical GoM sale (BOEM)151

Finally, remember that offshore oil and gas leasing results in a net reduction in GHG emissions.

The No Leasing scenario results in roughly double the CO2e emissions for upstream activities compared to those of the Leasing scenario, given that, collectively, the substitute energy sources have higher GHG emissions per unit of production (also known as “GHG intensity”) compared to the forgone domestically produced OCS oil and natural gas of the Leasing scenario.


Even when mid- and downstream emissions are included, leasing is preferable to no leasing. See the table below from the BOEM report:

Bottom line: we need more energy leasing and less military aggression!

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Netherlands climate activist Niklas Hohne succinctly summarizes the “end of fossil fuels” strategy (first quote) that the US Department of the Interior seems intent on implementing in the proposed 5 Year OCS Leasing Plan (second quote). What is DOI’s legislative authority for phasing out offshore oil and gas production? It’s certainly not the OCS Lands Act which calls for the expeditious and orderly development of OCS resources. Neither the EIA nor any other reputable forecaster believes we can even reduce, let alone eliminate, oil and gas consumption in the next 20-30 years.

“The plan was not to build any new infrastructure, because everything new you build has to run for 20 or 30 years to pencil out, long past the point we want to be off fossil fuels,” Hohne said. 

Niklas Hohne, founder of the New Climate Institute (Netherlands) to the Washington Post

The long-term nature of OCS oil and gas development, such that production on a lease can continue for decades makes consideration of future climate pathways relevant to the Secretary’s determinations with respect to how the OCS leasing program best meets the Nation’s energy needs.

5 Year Leasing Program, p.3

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As we await the outcome of the nationally important gubernatorial race here in the Commonwealth of Virginia, I wanted to acknowledge the political appointees whom I had the opportunity to work for in the OCS oil and gas program. While they had different backgrounds and interests, all respected the importance of the program and were committed to safe operations and protection of the marine environment. Remarkably, they all managed the OCS program in a rather non-partisan manner.

Republican AppointeesDemocrat AppointeesNotes
Harold DoleyDon KashDr. Kash was Chief of the Conservation Div. (USGS), which was roughly the equivalent of BSEE Director
Bill BettenbergTom FryBill Bettenberg was a career Federal employee appointed as MMS Director by a Republican administration
Bob KallmanCynthia Quarterman
Barry WilliamsonWalt Rosenbusch
Scott SewellTom KitsosDr. Kitsos was a career Federal employee appointed MMS Director by a Democrat administration
Randall Luthi

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