Secretary Jewell tours offshore drilling rig, production platform in Gulf of Mexico
NEW ORLEANS -- Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today visited an offshore drilling rig and production platform in the Gulf of Mexico, capping a 2-day visit to the Department’s regional offices that oversee oil and gas development in federal waters. Earlier, Secretary Jewell met with Interior employees, praising them for their professionalism and commitment to their mission, including safe and responsible energy development and Gulf Coast restoration.
Jewell noted the role oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico plays in our nation’s energy landscape, and said that her department would, “continue to work with industry to ensure that these resources are developed safely and responsibly, while also delivering a fair return to the American taxpayer, businesses and communities.”
Jewell was accompanied by Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) Director Jim Watson and a BSEE Gulf Region inspector on the visits, which included seeing firsthand LLOG’s drilling operations onboard the ENSCO 8502 rig, approximately 120 mi southeast of New Orleans. There she observed a cementing operation for a production well and was briefed on LLOG’s development plan for the area.
Jewell then visited Chevron’s deepest producing facility, a semi-submersible platform, located in 6,500 ft water depth approximately 125 mi southeast of New Orleans. There she toured the production equipment and discussed Chevron’s deepwater strategy for exploration and development in the Gulf of Mexico.
In speaking to employees on Thursday, including Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and BSEE employees, Jewell thanked them for their work to implement the most significant drilling and safety reforms in U.S. history following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon tragedy.
In 2012, the Interior approved 112 new deepwater well permits in the Gulf , the most since 2005, and more rigs are now operating there than before Deepwater Horizon. Under a new 5-year program for offshore leasing, more than 75% of the total undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources estimated on the OCS were made available for exploration and development. Fifteen potential lease sales are scheduled for the 2012-17 period, including 12 in the Gulf and three offshore Alaska.
The most recent Gulf lease sale in March offered 39 million acres, attracting more than $1.2 billion in high bids. The 20-million-acre sale held last November netted nearly $134 million. A third sale in August will offer 21 million acres offshore Texas, making all unleased areas in the Western Planning Area available for development.