U.S. passes bill to modernize offshore oil and gas leasing

The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5577, or better known as the ‘Innovation in Offshore Leasing Act,’ by voice vote.

The bill passed on Tuesday, introduced by Representatives Garret Graves from Louisiana and Alan Lowenthal from California, provides the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell with the authority to conduct Internet-based oil and natural gas lease sales for the US Outer Continental Shelf.

Chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources and the representative of Utah in the House of Representatives, Rob Bishop, said: “This bill brings much-needed modernization to our antiquated offshore leasing processes.

“Even though the current Administration seeks to eliminate all of the Outer Continental Shelf from exploration, what is available in the restrictive Five-Year Plan will benefit immensely from Rep. Graves’ innovative framework. This bipartisan bill expands both public access and transparency.”

Graves said: “From industry, flood protection and traffic to national security and the balancing the budget, we’re working to make the government better leverage the technology that we all use in our private lives to do its work better, quicker and at a lower cost to taxpayers.”

This bill amends the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to authorize the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to conduct offshore oil and gas lease sales through Internet-based bidding methods.

To remind, back in August, BOEM broadcasted the first-ever online Gulf of Mexico lease sale offering 23.8 million acres in federal waters offshore Texas for oil and gas exploration and development.

The bureau explained that the intention behind the livestream was to allow bid information to reach a much broader audience and eliminate the need for the public to physically attend the bid reading.

According to the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, BOEM is required to gather information from each company present for bidding at the ten most recent oil and gas lease sales conducted under the Act before conducting any Internet-based sale.

All Internet-based sales must meet certain requirements, and BOEM will publicly disclose statistical data regarding any sale on the day the sale is executed. Additionally, BOEM must conduct at least one Internet-based lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf Region within one year. BOEM must also provide a report to Congress within 90 days after it conducts a third Internet-based lease sale.

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