David Dismukes, associate executive director and professor for the Center for Energy Studies at Louisiana State University, testified at the September 18 Senate Republican Conference hearing on offshore oil and gas drilling. Dismukes discussed the potential opportunities and challenges associated with opening restricted areas of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).
Currently, the offshore federal OCS produces about 27 percent of total oil production, and 14 percent of all U.S. natural production, with most of that production coming from the Gulf of Mexico region. Dismukes described promising projects within the federal OCS, particularly in the deepwater areas of the Gulf, but warned that without expanded access, the federal OCS would likely decline in terms of the contribution it makes to overall U.S. energy supplies.
"Such decline will cause a greater reliance on imported sources of energy without corresponding increases in unconventional resources here at home," he said. "The areas of the federal OCS that are currently restricted to drilling could provide substantial and very meaningful contributions to overall resource levels."
Dismukes identified three challenges to opening restricted areas: recognizing the significant capital investments and risks; understanding the need for a long-run view in examining the necessity and timing for opening these restricted areas; and the need for policy and regulatory consistency in establishing rules for operating in these restricted areas once they become available.
The forum, presided over by Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, was held to question experts on steps the United States should take to increase production of oil and gas, reduce oil imports, and stabilize consumer prices. Other panelists included Don Briggs, president of Louisiana Oil & Gas Association, and Doug Morris, group director for upstream and industry operations with the American Petroleum Institute.
View the PDF of Dismukes' written testimony.
View the RealPlayer video of the Senate Republican Conference hearing on offshore oil and gas drilling.