U.S. unveils offshore oil, gas plan
The government will auction off a giant part of the central Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas exploration, in a move to reinvigorate the energy policy.
Thu, Jan 26, 2012 at 10:35 AM
ENERGY POLICY: Obama's stance on energy development has come under pressure in the wake of his rejection of a $7 billion plan to extend the Keystone pipeline that runs between the United States and Canada. (Photo: AFP)
The United States announced Thursday that it intends to auction off a giant part of the central Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas exploration, in a move to reinvigorate government energy policy.
The White House said the lease sale of nearly 38 million acres was "part of the president's blueprint for a secure energy future," and would take place in New Orleans on June 20.
Obama's stance on energy development has come under pressure in the wake of his rejection of a $7 billion plan to extend the Keystone pipeline that runs between the United States and Canada.
Republicans see a political winner in attacks related to Keystone XL and are likely to hound Obama up until the November 2012 elections, citing his refusal as a government sop to environmentalists at the cost of much-needed U.S. jobs.
Obama was expected to discuss the announcement in Nevada later Thursday, the White House said in a statement, noting that the sale includes all available unleased areas in the central area of offshore Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
"This is one of many steps that the administration is taking, at the president's direction, to increase responsible domestic production and reduce dependence on foreign oil," it said.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar echoed the White House's sentiments.
"The president has made it clear that developing our domestic oil and gas resources is a significant part of this administration's efforts to grow our economy and create jobs," he said.
"This lease sale is part of our commitment to safe and responsible development of the outer continental shelf," he added.
The central Gulf of Mexico contains close to 31 billion barrels of oil and 134 trillion cubic feet of natural gas that are currently undiscovered and technically recoverable, according to US government estimates.
The Gulf of Mexico was devastated in April 2010 when an explosion at the Deepwater Horizon rig killed 11 people, and the Macondo well gushed oil into the ocean for 87 days, blackening the southern US shoreline and crippling the local tourism and fishing sectors.
Copyright 2012 AFP American Edition