The Gulf of Mexico, at least the western “shelf” portion off Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama, is what is know as a mature oil and gas basin. It has been under intensive exploration since 1947. Billions of barrels and trillions of cubic feet have already been produced. While billions/trillions more may be found, the vast majority of the remaining reserves will be added at the margin: in small amounts, with marginal economics (that scare off the big players), and heavily dependent on the aging infrastructure.
To use an analogy from agriculture, the Gulf is on its fourth harvest. The pickings are mighty slim. Most of the leases that the Dems have their collective panties in a bunch about are minimum- or near-minimum bid tracts with few if any positive indications of hydrocarbon potential.
I have worked in and around the Gulf for most of my 30-year professional career. I will state categorically that the odds against any game-changing discovery on the Gulf of Mexico shelf are so long as to be laughable. Certainly the Chairmen of the House and Senate Energy Subcommittees know enough about the bsiness to understand this fundamental fact.Congressman Roy Blunt (R-MO) gets it, however.
Seeking to blunt GOP efforts to permit oil exploration off Atlantic and Pacific coasts, House Democrats are pushing legislation they say would spur oil drilling on already available lands in Alaska, the West and the western Gulf of Mexico.
Republicans scoffed that the so-called Drill Act – imposing a tougher “use it or lose it” rule on leases already held by oil companies – would do little to boost oil exploration, saying current policies are aimed at the same goal. A vote was set for Thursday.
On the eve of the vote, the Interior Department issued a major new lease in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve, known as NPR-A. The Democratic bill would require a more active Interior Department leasing program on the reserve, which is located to the west of the off-limits Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, the subject of a long-standing battle between environmentalists and the oil lobby.
“Democrats brought forth their ‘Use It or Lose It’ bill without knowing it was already the law of the land,” said GOP Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo. “Today we’re reminded that the majority’s efforts to ‘unlock’ NPR-A are about as necessary as passing a bill ordering the sun to rise.”