A report requested by President Obama and released by the Department of the Interior shows that more than two-thirds of offshore leases in the Gulf of Mexico and more than half of onshore leases on federal lands remain idle, neither producing nor under active exploration and development by companies who hold those leases.
“We continue to support safe and responsible domestic energy production, and as this report shows millions of acres that have already been leased to industry for oil and gas productions sit idle,” Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said. “These are resources that belong to the American people, and they expect those supplies to be developed in a timely and responsible manner and with a fair return to taxpayers. As we continue to offer new areas onshore and offshore for leasing, as we have done over the last two years, we will also be exploring ways to provide incentives to companies to bring production online quickly and safely.”
According to the report, more than 70 percent of the tens of millions of offshore acres under lease are inactive, neither producing nor currently subject to approved or pending exploration or development plans. This includes almost 24 million inactive leased acres in the Gulf of Mexico, which potentially could hold more than 11 billion barrels of oil and 50 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
For onshore leases, the review found that approximately 45 percent of all leases and approximately 57 percent of all leased acres are inactive. That means that out of a total of over 38 million leased onshore acres, almost 22 million leased onshore acres that are not being used. The Department is currently exploring policy options to provide companies with additional incentives for more rapid development of oil and gas resources from existing and future leases.