Second, the Gulf of Mexico permitting slowdown is still very real, and Americans are suffering every day as a result. While some may boast that 113 permits have been approved since the end of the moratorium, this does not account for the fact that one well requires multiple permits. In reality, only 34 permits have been approved for unique wells since the lifting of the moratorium, according to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEMRE). An additional 40 permits, however, are waiting to be approved or have been returned for additional information.
According to New Orleans, Inc., Gulf permit approvals have suffered a 26% monthly reduction from last year's monthly average and a 39% reduction from the historical average over the past three years. Shallow water permits are also lagging: In the past three months, a monthly average of about 4 shallow water permits were issued, far below the historical average of nearly 15 permits per month over the past three years.
Luckily, there is a clear path forward.
A recent study conducted by IHS-CERA found that resuming oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico to levels that existed prior to last year’s incident would create 230,000 jobs in 2012 and an additional 199,000 jobs in 2013. The study also suggests that under a slow return to traditional production rates, the Gulf would yield 1.68 million barrels per day in 2011 and steadily increase to 1.97 million barrels per day in 2013. The difference between current EIA projections and the potential in the Gulf as outlined by IHS-CERA (more than half a million barrels of oil per day) represents oil that we will otherwise have to import from other countries.
Of course, oil and gas alone will not be enough to meet our future energy needs. America needs a realistic, long-term plan to diversify our energy portfolio with an ‘all of the above’ strategy. Too much of the current rhetoric by some, however, makes it appear that alternative energy is ready to meet all our energy needs. Unfortunately, this is not yet true, no matter how much some may wish. We need it all, but we need jobs and economic growth now.
Distorting the facts about offshore energy production and ignoring the realities of alternative energy development do not move us forward as a country; they only serve to maintain the status quo of high unemployment, increasing dependence on foreign sources of energy, and a stagnant economy.