The Economic Impacts of Allowing Access to the Atlantic OCS for Oil and Natural Gas Exploration and Development

The U.S. offshore oil and natural gas industry is a significant contributor to domestic energy production, the national economy, employment, and government revenues. New offshore oil and gas exploration and development in the U.S. is currently limited primarily to the Central and Western Gulf of Mexico, with limited legacy production off California and Alaska. In total, approximately 94 percent of the total acreage in federal offshore waters is inaccessible to offshore oil and natural gas development, either through lack of federal lease sales or outright moratoriums. Oil and gas development off the Atlantic coast has been restricted since the 1980’s. Only 51 exploratory wells were drilled in the 1970s and 1980s, mainly in shallow water. A lease sale off the coast of Virginia was planned for 2011, but was subsequently canceled. Atlantic areas were subsequently removed from the 2017-2022 OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program (five-year plan).

Download Article