Access to Oil & Natural Gas Offshore Virginia

April 7, 2011

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U.S. Rep. Goodlatte Introduces Legislation for Virginia Offshore Oil & Gas Lease Sales

This year marks the first year since 1958 that the federal government will not have held an offshore lease sale.  Meanwhile, prices at the pump are reading levels not seen since 2008.  As a result, offshore exploration and drilling has once again become a hot topic of conversation. 

On Tuesday, April 5, Congressman Bob Goodlatte (Virginia) introduced the Virginia Outer Continental Shelf Energy Production Act of 2011 (H.R. 1372) to restore offshore oil and natural gas lease sales off the coast of Virginia that were halted by the Obama Administration’s moratorium in 2010. 

The bill would require the Secretary of the Interior to carry out a lease sale of Federal oil and gas exploration leases in the Outer Continental Shelf located off the coast of Virginia, within one year of enactment.  The legislation also includes revenue sharing with 75% to Virginia, 12.5% to provide financial assistance to Virginia under the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965, and 12.5% to the Federal Treasury to mitigate any environmental damage that occurs due to the oil and gas leases.   

This follows the introduction of three bills by U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings (Washington) to open more areas to offshore exploration and development of oil and natural gas.

Estimates have shown that developing Virginia’s offshore resources would create 2,578 full time positions per year, increase capital investments by $7.84 billion, create $644 million in direct and indirect payroll, and result in $271 million in state and local revenue.


Senator Webb, Secretary Domenech on Expanding Offshore Access to Oil and Natural Gas

Senator Jim Webb Calls Offshore Access “a priority”

Yesterday, Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources, Douglas W. Domenech, testified before the U.S. House Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee in favor of the three bills recently introduced by Representative Doc Hastings (WA-4), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.

These bills seek to reverse the federal government’s de facto moratorium on offshore drilling and restart federal offshore lease agreements. 

Secretary Domenech testified that the legislation will together “expand offshore energy production in order to create jobs, lower energy costs, generate revenue to help pay down the national debt, and improve national security by lessening our dependence on foreign sources of oil.”  Secretary Domenech also recognized the devastation caused by Deepwater Horizon, but stressed the importance of not allowing this unfortunate accident to hold back American energy policy at the expense of domestic energy production, jobs, and the rising gas prices.  Virginia hopes to share revenues from oil and gas exploration with coastal states in a similar way that the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006 (GOMESA) created revenue sharing in the Gulf. 

On the same day, Senator Jim Webb said, “As gas prices rise, in part due to America’s dependence on foreign oil, we must pursue robust energy policies that include the expansion of our domestic energy resources in a safe and secure manner, as well as conservation and clean energy measures…Opening up more of the nation’s outer continental shelf resources to responsible natural gas and oil exploration should be a priority.”


Hastings Bills

Last week, Congressman Doc Hastings (Washington) introduced three bills:  the Putting the Gulf Back to Work Act (H.R. 1229), Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act (H.R. 1230), and Reversing President Obama’s Offshore Moratorium Act (H.R. 1231). 

H.R. 1229 would end the Obama Administration’s  de facto moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico by: requiring the Secretary of the Interior to act on a permit to drill within 30 days; providing 30 days for the Secretary to restart Gulf permits that were approved before the May 2010 moratorium; requiring lease holders to receive an approved permit to drill before drilling; requiring the Secretary to conduct a safety review on an drilling operations; and establishing an expedited judicial review process for lawsuits relating to Gulf permits. 

H.R. 1230 would require the Secretary of the Interior to conduct oil and natural gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Virginia that were delayed or cancelled by the Administration within one year of enactment of the bill. 

H.R. 1231 would lift the Administration’s ban on new offshore drilling by:  requiring that each five-year offshore leasing plan include lease sales in the areas containing the greatest known reserves; allowing a state’s Governor to request opt-in to a five year leasing plan; requiring the Secretary to establish production goals in a five-year plan; and enhancing technical research on potential offshore reserves. 

In the face of Mid-East turbulence, volatility in oil markets, and the real threat of $4 per gallon gas by the summer, Congress is taking steps to address these growing economic and national security issues by advancing American energy independence through offshore exploration. 

Today’s Average Prices

Virginia:  $3.63 per gallon

NYMEX:  $110.23 crude future per barrel