Interior Dept.: Most Gulf Oil and Gas Leases Idle

Saturday, 02 Apr 2011 10:00 PM

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The Interior Department has revealed that more than two-thirds of the Gulf of Mexico offshore oil and gas leases are idle. The report also showed that more than half of the leases on federal lands are also idle, the Washington Post reports.

The report counters complaints from Republicans and the oil industry which has recently attacked the department for delays in issuing new offshore permits in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The administration will seek to "provide incentives to companies to bring production online quickly and safely," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told the Post.

The report says more than 70 percent of offshore acres currently leased to oil companies are inactive, defined as either not producing oil or gas or those that do not have approved exploration or development plans. The area could hold more than 11 billion barrels of oil and 50 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, the Post said.

"These are resources that belong to the American people, and they expect those supplies to be developed in a timely and responsible manner and with a fair return to taxpayers," Salazar said. Oil companies counter that many of the leases require lengthy planning, environmental and seismic data collection before exploration wells can be sunk, time not counted in the government's definition of active leases, the Post said.

Chevron's Kurt Glaubitz told the Post, "We do not hold leases that we do not plan to develop. In fact, we have returned 360 leases to the federal government since 2008 after determining that we could not find oil and gas in sufficient quantities."

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