In Tuesday night's State of the Union Address, President Obama said:
Over the last three years, we’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration, and tonight, I’m directing my Administration to open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources.
Taking the show on the road,
Fending off critics who say his policies have stifled domestic energy production, President Obama today announced that his administration would open 38 million acres of oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
Wow! The guy is finally getting aggressive!
Not so much, according to the House Natural Resources Committee:
WASHINGTON, D.C., January 26, 2012 - Today, President Obama made a “major announcement,” in what otherwise must be a slow day for the White House, by moving forward with offshore lease sales that were scheduled before he even took office. The rather banal “major announcement” does not open any new offshore areas for energy production but combines a lease sale delayed for a year by the Obama Administration (216 Central Gulf of Mexico 2011) and a lease sale scheduled for this year by the previous Administration (222 Central Gulf of Mexico 2012). Since elected, President Obama has delayed or canceled multiple lease sales, including #220 off the Virginia Coast, which was scheduled for 2011 and is now delayed indefinitely. These delays have destroyed jobs, caused a decline in American oil and natural gas production and harmed local economies.
In other words, the 38,000,000 acres are all in areas that have never been off-limits to drilling. These leases have been in annual area-wide sales for at least the last 20 years, up until Obama cancelled sales after Macondo. This is nothing new.
And the "75% of our resources" claim? Seventy-five percent of the resource estimate is in the Central Gulf Planning Area, because that's where all the wells are! That's where all the data is! (See: Sutton, Willie.) Reserve estimation relies heavily on known data and estimates of probability; since oil and gas is known to exist in the Central Gulf, it stands to reason that it's a pretty good place to look.
We know much, much less about the 85% of land area of the Outer Continental Shelf that is still off-limits. 25% of the resource estimate is there, but since the data are so sparse and so old (the geophysical data is at least 30 years old, ancient in technology terms), there is a huge error bar on those estimates.
Most geologists thought the deepwater Gulf of Mexico contained no commercial oil or gas. That is, until the drill bit proved it was there.
”We’ve got to have an all-out, all-in, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every source of American energy, a strategy that is cleaner and cheaper and full of new jobs,” he said.
Ba. Lo. Ney. The Obama Administration must really be feeling the heat on energy to try to paint this one as a "major initiative". Does the substance ever matter, Chief?
Cross-posted at stevemaley.com.