Offshore Oil Exploration & Development

July 6, 2011

Pardon Our Dust

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Senators Webb and Warner Introduce Offshore Energy Legislation

Today, U.S. Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner of Virginia introduced the Virginia Outer Continental Shelf Energy Production Act of 2011 that would call for oil & natural gas exploration off the Virginia coast.  The legislation requires half of any lease sale revenues be paid to Virginia, including funds to support land and conservation efforts, development of clean energy resources, and transportation within the Commonwealth. 

Additionally the bill would expand the map of the mid-Atlantic exploration area to more accurately reflect the resources off of Virginia’s coast. 

This would advance a lease sale to occur during the 2012-2017 Five Year Plan.

Originally scheduled to take place in 2012, the lease sale was cancelled by Secretary of the Interior Salazar last year.

Then this year it was announced that the entire Atlantic Coast was removed from consideration until after 2017.

Meanwhile, oil and gas prices remain about where they were when the President announced the unusual release of petroleum from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve last month.

The Virginia Outer Continental Shelf Energy Production Act of 2011:

·         Directs the Department of the Interior to include a lease sale off the coast of Virginia in the 2012-2017 five-year oil and gas lease plan. 

·         Directs half of the revenues from offshore resource development off the Virginia coast to the Commonwealth.  Of that, 12.5% of total revenues would be directed to Virginia-based land and water conservation efforts, transportation projects, and alternative energy development projects. 

·         Directs the Department of the Interior to review the modify the boundaries of the lease sale to more accurately reflect the resources off of Virginia’s coast, resulting in a larger area for exploration.

Senator Webb stated, “We must pursue robust policies that include the expansion of our domestic energy resources in a safe and secure manner even as we develop conservation, renewable and efficient energy measures.  Opening up and expanding Virginia’s offshore resources to responsible natural gas and oil exploration holds significant promise for boosting needed domestic energy production, while bolstering the Commonwealth’s economy.”

Senator Warner stated about the legislation, “Our economy and national security will be strengthened by an ‘all-of-the-above’ approach to energy, including the expanded production of our own domestic energy resources.  We should not be sending hundreds of billions of dollars each year to oil-producing countries that do not like us.” 

In 2008, Senators Webb and Warner also introduced legislation to allow Virginia to conduct energy exploration activities in the outer continental shelf with revenue-sharing provisions. 



Governor McDonnell Applauds Legislation by Senators Warner and Webb 

Governor McDonnell issued a statement supporting the Virginia Outer Continental Shelf Energy Production Act of 2011 that was introduced by Senators Warner and Webb. 

Governor McDonnell stated, “I applaud Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner for this common-sense proposal.  Allowing environmentally-responsible offshore energy development off the coast of Virginia will help move our nation closer to energy independence, while bringing much needed jobs and revenue to the Commonwealth.  There is strong, bipartisan support for offshore energy exploration and production in Virginia.  That support is evident in this legislation, just as it was evident in the General Assembly’s passage of legislation officially declaring the position of the Commonwealth to be in favor of offshore energy development.  We need more safe and reliable sources of domestic energy.  We need more jobs.  Utilizing our offshore oil and natural gas resources accomplishes both of these goals.  I urge the United States Congress to take up this legislation immediately, and pass it swiftly.  It is time we got serious about American energy security.  This legislation does that.  I thank the Senators for their efforts, and look forward to working with them to get this legislation passed and offshore oil and natural gas production underway in Virginia.”

Governor McDonnell also supported similar legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Goodlatte earlier this spring. 



Today’s Average Prices

National:  $3.57 per gallon

North Carolina:  $3.48 per gallon

Virginia:  $3.43 per gallon

NYMEX:  $96.76 crude future