Report: Oil production on federal lands falls again in 2012

Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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A report by the Congressional Research Service shows that oil production on federal lands took another dip in 2012, while overall U.S. oil production has exploded due to increased production on private and state lands.

“All of the increased production from FY2007 to FY2012 took place on non-federal lands, causing the federal share of total U.S. crude oil production to fall by about seven percentage points,” according to the report. “Overall, U.S. natural gas production rose by four trillion cubic feet (tcf) or 20% since 2007, while production on federal lands (onshore and offshore) fell by about 33% and production on non-federal lands grew by 40%.”

Since President Obama took office, oil and natural gas production on private and state lands has increased. In 2009, non-federal lands produced 3,487,800 barrels of oil per day which grew to 4,580,800 barrels per day last year. Non-federal lands produced 16,233 billion cubic feet of natural gas in 2009 and expanded to 20,242 billion cubic feet in 2012.

“After years of talking about it, we are finally poised to control our own energy future. We produce more oil at home than we have in 15 years,” President Obama said in his State of the Union Address. “We produce more natural gas than ever before – and nearly everyone’s energy bill is lower because of it.”

However, oil production on federal lands has declined since 2009 from 1,731,500 barrels per day to 1,627,400 barrels per day. The total share of crude oil produced on federal lands fell to 26 percent in 2012 from 33 percent in 2009.

Natural natural gas production on federal lands has also plummeted from 5,376 billion cubic feet in 2009 to 3,724 billion cubic feet last year. Natural gas production on federal lands made up 15.5 percent of total U.S. production in 2012 — down from 24.9 percent in 2009.

President Obama promised to speed up times for new oil and gas permits in his second term and promised to support technology to make natural gas burn cleaner.

“In the meantime, the natural gas boom has led to cleaner power and greater energy independence,” Obama said. “That’s why my Administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits. But I also want to work with this Congress to encourage the research and technology that helps natural gas burn even cleaner and protects our air and water.”

However, Obama has come under harsh criticism for closing off lands to oil and gas drilling while instead favoring renewable energy.

“President Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar have presided over the most abysmal stewardship of public lands in recent history,” said Dan Kish, the senior vice president at the Institute for Energy Research. “Oil production on federal lands declined last year. Natural gas production on federal lands is in a free fall.”

“Where the states have been in charge, we have seen energy development boom in a safe and responsible way, but under federal control we have seen a sharp decline in production,” said Kentucky Republican Rep. Ed Whitfield. “A web of red tape and a backlog of delayed permits are blocking important energy production opportunities on federal lands.”

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