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Exclusive-Biden's 5-year offshore oil plan to have just three auctions - sources

Published Sep 28, 2023 04:11PM ET Updated Sep 28, 2023 07:36PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A massive drilling derrick is pictured on BP's Thunder Horse Oil Platform in the Gulf of Mexico, 150 miles from the Louisiana coast, May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Jessica Resnick-Ault/File Photo

By Jarrett Renshaw and Nichola Groom

(Reuters) -The Biden administration's five-year plan for offshore oil and gas leasing will not include any sales in 2024 and will feature just three in the final four years, the lowest number of auctions in the history of the program, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

The plan is almost certain to disappoint both environmental groups and oil companies. In recent years, politicians, environmentalists and the oil industry have cast the national leasing program as a symbol of either the need to rein in fossil fuel development to avert the worst impacts of climate change or as a critical tool to shore up domestic energy supplies and keep pump prices low.

Since 1992, no five-year plan has had fewer than 11 lease sales and most have had 15 to 20, according to data from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

The schedule for leasing in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska for 2024-2028 is due on Friday following several delays and months of battling between environmentalists and drilling advocates over what the policy should look like.

The final plan will mark a dramatic reduction from a proposal the Trump administration had crafted in 2018 that envisioned 47 lease sales, including in California and the Atlantic.

It will, however, fall short of U.S. President Joe Biden's campaign promise to end new federal drilling entirely to fight climate change, after court decisions required continued leasing and last year's Inflation Reduction Act made them a pre-requisite for new offshore wind power lease auctions.

The White House is expected to argue on Friday that holding oil lease sales is the price to pay if it wants to achieve its ambitious wind energy goals.

"The administration heard from the offshore wind industry that they need the IRA leasing mandates to be fulfilled to enable the U.S. offshore wind energy to continue to grow," a source familiar with the plan told Reuters.

Biden sees offshore wind power as a key tool in his administration's effort to decarbonize the economy.

"The number of oil and gas lease sales will be the lowest in history and will enable the rapid expansion of the offshore wind industry," the source said.

The Interior Department is required by law to create a national oil and gas leasing schedule every five years. It has been without one since the previous one expired in June 2022 due to heated debate over the program.

The Biden administration unveiled a proposed plan in July last year that had contemplated between zero to 11 lease sales.

The plan will be subject to a 60-day waiting period before it can be approved by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.

Exclusive-Biden's 5-year offshore oil plan to have just three auctions - sources
 

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Comments (3)
Maximus Maximus
Maximus Maximus Sep 28, 2023 11:37PM ET
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if neither oil co's or environmentalists are happy, means you have found a middle ground... we will still need oil for many years, but not at current levels. stepping down slowly is prudent
Warm Camp
Warm Camp Sep 28, 2023 7:38PM ET
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Another proof of hostile environment, causing oil companies to be very cautious about investing in the US. Of course, leftwing liars, common on this site, even including some “oil analysts”, pretend that these simple facts do not exist.
Maximus Maximus
Maximus Maximus Sep 28, 2023 7:38PM ET
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US oil production is at or near record highs, you ignoramus...
John E
John E Sep 28, 2023 7:38PM ET
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Maximus Maximus That has nothing to do with current administration policy and everyything to do with innovation and the previous administration
Stephen Fa
Stephen Fa Sep 28, 2023 5:48PM ET
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We'll pay for this policy in a few years when older wells approved in 2017-2020 go dry.
Tom Woosley
Tom Woosley Sep 28, 2023 5:48PM ET
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The exit plan from fossil fuels is similar to the exit from Afghanistan...with little forethought.
Maximus Maximus
Maximus Maximus Sep 28, 2023 5:48PM ET
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tom you mean the exit Trump ordered..
John E
John E Sep 28, 2023 5:48PM ET
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Maximus Maximus Trump ordered a chaotic exit while out of office and with no authority?
 
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