Eastern Gulf of Mexico gets most attention for offshore drilling

Washington Examiner:
The energy industry is expected to target the eastern Gulf of Mexico as the Trump administration plans to open almost all federal waters to oil and natural gas drilling.

“Of all the areas, the eastern Gulf of Mexico is the crown jewel,” said William Turner, a senior research analyst at energy consultant Wood Mackenzie. “It would gather the most interest because it seems it has the least amount of political risk, and technically, it is an area the industry knows, the way the waters behave, what geology is expected.”

The government currently has a moratorium on offshore drilling in the eastern Gulf until June 30, 2022, imposed partly because the Pentagon worries oil development would interfere with military testing and training in the area.

Oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico, which accounts for almost all current U.S. offshore production, is expected to hit a record high in 2018, after suffering three years of losses. Opening up areas east toward the coast of Florida would offer companies strong prospects for oil and gas and easy connections to existing infrastructure.

“There is more applicable data in the Gulf than anywhere else, which reduces the risk significantly,” said Christopher Guith, senior vice president of the Global Energy Institute at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Under the Interior Department's draft proposal, spanning 2019 to 2024, more than 90 percent of the total acres on the Outer Continental Shelf would be made available for leasing. It proposes 47 potential offshore lease sales, the most ever over a five-year period, including 19 sales off the Alaska coast, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico, nine in the Atlantic Ocean and seven in the Pacific.

The industry faces stronger obstacles in the other areas the Trump administration offered for offshore drilling.

The Arctic is remote and expensive. The last offshore lease sale for the East Coast was in 1983 and for the West Coast in 1984.

Coastal governors and other political leaders along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, worried about potential spills, have said they oppose Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s plans, and some have vowed to block drilling.
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It is wise to let those who produce oil make the determination as to where the best place is to find oil.  Texas has several offshore wells and I have never had a major worry about them.  I have actually raced my sailboat around some of the older rigs.  Oil producers are not cavalier about the mess that results from spills and it is in their economic interest to avoid them.  When they do happen the mess created is relatively short-term and they pay to clean them up.  I think it is a mistake to try to block offshore drilling.  The anti-energy left is hurting the economy of states who do block drilling and they are helping Opec and Russia.

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