Opinion: Energy potential back on track

06 26, 2012 by Houma Courier

Last week’s central Gulf of Mexico lease sale generated $1.7 billion in bonus bid revenues for the federal government and was evidence of industry’s strong interest to continue investing in the resources of the Gulf while providing jobs, energy and a robust economy.

The strong demand for the offshore tracts offered should remind all Americans, including members of the current administration, of the Gulf’s vast potential to serve our country’s energy needs well into the future.

While scheduled lease sales have dwindled sharply under the Obama administration, they are a necessary first step toward cultivating the energy supplies that Americans will need in years to come.

Lease sales are also critical because they provide revenue flows directly to the U.S. Treasury.

During 2008, $9.4 billion was generated in new offshore lease bids.

That figure shrank to $1.1 billion during 2009, $979 million in 2010 and only $36 million in 2011 as one lease sale was held the entire year.

This trend is significant because, next to tax revenues, royalties and lease sales from U.S. energy production are the second-largest overall contributor to our national treasury.

As importantly, lease sales provide the critical first step for developing productive sources of energy in years to come.

When we reduce lease sale opportunities today, we are effectively limiting our ability to produce energy tomorrow and create much needed jobs throughout the country.

Despite continuing permitting bottlenecks, limited permits for unique wells designated to reach hydrocarbons, and an overall lack of predictability in the permitting process, companies continue to bet on the vast potential of the Gulf.

The Gulf Economic Survival Team and Louisiana Department of Natural Resource Secretary Scott Angelle have worked tirelessly to identify and address regulatory hurdles in the offshore arena.

We will continue to focus our efforts on ways to improve confidence in the Gulf and help ensure the long-term viability of our energy and economic future.

We hope this week’s lease sale signals the start of a more consistent focus by this Administration on fulfilling the energy needs of Americans and capitalizing on the economic engine that is Gulf energy production.

The Gulf’s vast energy potential and enormous economic benefits must not be overlooked.

Lori LeBlanc

Executive director, Gulf Economic Survival Team