In the epicenter of the deepwater oil and gas industry, U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, from the State of Louisiana, chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, has pushed for more offshore energy production as the Department of the Interior (DOI) begins to draft its new five-year offshore energy plan.
“More offshore energy exploration and production means more high-paying jobs for hard working Americans that pay the kind of wages that allow middle class families to buy homes, save for college and build wealth. And it means achieving energy security for the United States—something that has bedeviled Congress and Republican and Democratic presidents for decades,” Sen. Landrieu said.
“As the Department of the Interior drafts its five-year plan for 2017-2022, it offers a great opportunity to build upon the success of the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act. GOMESA was a law I passed in 2006 by working with both Republicans and Democrats that opened up 8.3 million acres in the Gulf to oil and gas exploration for the first time, and could soon produce up to 2 million additional barrels of oil per day – that’s more than 10 percent of what the United States consumes and more oil than we import from Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Nigeria combined.”
The committee heard testimony from Walter Cruickshank, Ph.D., the acting Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and Adam Sieminski, the administrator of the Energy Information Administration. Sen. Landrieu pressed both witnesses on why the federal government’s estimates of OCS resources have been consistently and significantly lower than when production occurs in the OCS.
Sen. Landrieu added: “This is a resource that needs to be harnessed and tapped, and that is why we are here today as the Department of the Interior begins to develop its new five-year offshore energy plan. We need to act and turn this promising potential into a reality. Having these potential resources beneath our waters and not using them is shortsighted and makes us more dependent on countries that are unstable or do not share our values. The next 5-year plan must open up more areas for energy production off of our coasts.”
The second panel featured testimony from Louisiana companies that are part of the offshore energy supply chain. Kent Satterlee III, the Offshore Manager Regulatory Policy for Shell Exploration & Production Company, told the committee that the United States cannot and should not depend on other countries for its energy needs, especially when most of the world’s population increase will be in countries with significant energy resources.
Joe Leimkuhler, vice president for drilling of LLOG Exploration Company, the largest privately owned producer in the OCS, pointed out that that the overregulation of deepwater blowout preventers might be doing more harm than good.
Court B. Ramsay, President & CEO of Aries Marine Corporation, who was born in South Louisiana and currently operates 24 vessels to support the entire life cycle of a well, asked as well for streamlined safety and management procedures.
“Everything is getting bigger and bigger, but unfortunately the coastal energy ports have not been able to keep up primarily due to the insignificant water depth,” said Oneil Malbrough, the Executive Director of CB&I.
“Without deeper channels, we cannot and will not survive.”
Recently, Sen. Landrieu added a provision to the bill that funds the Army Corps of Engineers that will require it to factor in the value of goods and equipment used in offshore energy production, including fabrication and the servicing and supplying of offshore rigs when deciding which projects to build and which channels to dredge.
Chet Chassion, the executive director of Port Fourchon that services 90 percent of the offshore deep water activity, underscored the need to invest in the nation’s energy infrastructure, such as LA 1.
Sen. Landrieu concluded: “When the people of Louisiana hold the Energy Committee gavel, good things happen for the oil and gas industry, our state, the Gulf Coast region and the nation. With it back in our hands, I am confident that we can use it in ways to expand this industry to increase offshore and onshore drilling, reduce unnecessary and redundant regulations that cost time, money, and jobs and build on the revenue sharing partnership that I helped establish.”