The Trump administration’s revised five-year program to expand offshore drilling in most federal waters will be released “in the coming weeks,” an Interior Department official said on March 6, after months of opposition from coastal state lawmakers opposed to exposing their shorelines to oil and gas exploration.
Walter Cruickshank, acting director of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), said at a House hearing that the agency is finalizing its proposed five-year Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) oil and gas leasing program for 2019 to 2024 but declined to say whether certain states would be exempt.
BOEM last year proposed to open up over 90% of coastal waters in the outer continental shelf to oil and gas drilling, offering 47 lease sales, including areas like California that had not been offered since the 1980s.
The proposal drew concern from Republican and Democratic lawmakers in most coastal states, and sharp criticism in public comments to the plan last year.
California Congressman Jared Huffman pressed Cruickshank at the House natural resources hearing on whether the revised plan would reflect the strong opposition reflected in the public comment period.
Cruickshank said the agency acknowledged that the bulk of public comments from California, for example, was opposed to offshore drilling but said they were just one factor that BOEM will consider in drafting the revised proposal.
“Public input certainly informs those factors but by law it is not and cannot be the only thing we consider,” he said.
California and Washington threatened to block permits for transporting oil from new offshore rigs through their states.
Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke personally exempted Florida from drilling a few days after announcing the plan after he met with then-Governor Rick Scott but later said that BOEM had not made a formal decision to leave the state out.
Cruickshank said when BOEM releases the revised proposal in the coming weeks, it will not be a final plan. He said the proposal would be subject to more analysis and another 90-day comment period.
We’ve entered the Tom Petty zone of rig count decline. Talk to drilling contractors and they report business is Free Falling, Free Falling. Tight formation rig count dropped 39 this past week, including 22 in the Permian, five in the Eagle Ford and six in Oklahoma’s Anadarko Basin.
Western Europe’s biggest producing oil field is now expected to hit a daily output rate of 470,000 barrels in early May, above the 440,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) peak that had initially been penciled in for mid-year, the company said.
All the blocks are offered in the western part of the Norwegian Sea, with interested parties asked to submit comments in a public hearing by May 11, the oil and energy ministry said.