Trump administration plans to open up offshore oil and gas


Bell 525 Relentless

The Trump administration has revealed the first draft of a five-year plan to boost the US offshore oil and gas market.

The draft programme is now open to public comment and meetings will be held to discuss it starting 16 January.

The National OCS Program considers opening almost all of the US Outer-Continental Shelf (OCS) for oil and gas lease sales. This includes planning areas off the coast of Alaska, the Pacific Region, the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic.

In an attempt to boost the country’s energy independence, the programme will open up more than 90% of the total US OCS for oil and gas lease sales. Currently, 98% of the OCS is off limits.

This includes 47 lease sales in 25 of the 26 oil and gas planning areas in US waters over the 2019-2024 period. If passed, this would be the largest number of oil and gas lease sales offered in US history.

“By proposing to open up nearly the entire OCS for potential oil and gas exploration, the United States can advance the goal of moving from aspiring for energy independence to attaining energy dominance,” said Vincent DeVito, counsellor for energy policy at the US Department of the Interior.

“This decision could bring unprecedented access to America’s extensive offshore oil and gas resources and allows us to better compete with other oil-rich nations.”

Outside Opportunities

Opening up previously off-limit OCS waters will enable more offshore drilling missions and more helicopters will be needed to support this.

This is a welcome proposal to a downturned oil and gas market. However, signs of recovery outside of the US were already showing.

Douglas Westwood’s offshore oil and gas report predicted market recovery to start in early 2018. The energy market research and services firm expects offshore oil and gas helicopter expenditure to grow at 1% CAGR over the 2018-2022 period. Douglas Westwood expects most of this growth to come from the Mediterranean, East Africa and Guyana.

Also, Brazil auctioned off a large number of offshore blocks in October, which were bought up by oil and gas giants such as Shell. This was one of the reasons cited for boosting confidence in the market alongside stronger earnings by helicopter lessor Waypoint in a recent offshore wind report.