FL Offshore Drilling Reportedly Still Possible


A senior official of the Department of the Interior has reportedly asserted that Florida’s coastal waters will not necessarily be exempted from the Trump administration's offshore drilling plan, despite a recent announcement to the contrary.

Florida Exemption

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recently called for the allowance of new offshore oil and gas drilling in all U.S. coastal waters. This opens billions of acres in oceans from the Arctic to the Atlantic to potential drilling.

Governors of states along all coasts expressed their concerns over Zinke’s move, but Zinke recently supported Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s stance on protecting Florida’s coasts, as they drive much of the state's vital tourism industry. At the time, Zinke noted that he was removing the state “from consideration for any new oil and gas platforms.”

Since Zinke’s announcement, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, requested information regarding the agency’s five-year drilling plan.

There has been no response from Zinke as yet.

"This confirms what we all suspected: there is no deal to protect Florida from drilling,” Nelson said, going on to add that drilling off the coast of Florida remained a real threat to the state, and that all should be working together to protect the coasts.

Change of Plans

Since then, according to The New York Times, Walter Cruickshank, acting director of the Bureau of Ocean Management, noted that Zinke’s decision was not final. The bureau will be moving forward with the required review of offshore resources, which will include Florida’s. A final decision regarding offshore drilling near the state will be made after the analysis is completed.

Cruickshank noted that the secretary’s decision would be reflected in the proposed program decision. He also noted that, to his knowledge, no one at the Bureau had been consulted about Zinke’s message regarding Florida before it was posted.

Zinke’s announcement seemed to be bypassing mandatory public and scientific reviews of offshore resources and environmental impact. Despite this, Scott remains confident that Zinke will honor the exemption.

Lease Sale

The U.S. Department of the Interior announced in October what was projected to be the largest oil and gas lease sale in the country’s history, which includes 76.9 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico, drawing both praise and concern.

Scheduled to take place in March, the lease sale was slated to include federal waters off of Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.

The Bureau of Ocean Management estimated that the Gulf’s outer continental shelf holds more than 48 billion barrels of oil and 141 trillion cubic feet of gas, all technically recoverable. The rest of the OCS holds 90 billion barrels of oil and 327 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas.

The Proposed Lease Sale 250 will be the second under the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-22, noted Energy Business Review. This includes 14,375 unleased blocks.


Tagged categories: Department of the Interior; Government; NA; North America; Offshore; Oil and Gas; President Trump; Program/Project Management

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