Deep Sea Oil Platforms in the Gulf of Mexico stretch 4600 feet deep

Idle claims about idle leases

We’ve heard it before and it’s back again. Some in Washington are once more claiming the petroleum industry is sitting on idle leases.

The charge was made recently during a discussion of energy issues in one of the presidential debates. And now several members of Congress are circulating a report to buttress their claim that oil companies – which have paid millions to the federal government to secure leases for exploration and production – are somehow refusing to develop those leases at the same time we are encouraging government authorities to lease more federal offshore lands.

The report’s authors suggest that “Big Oil” companies like ExxonMobil should either “use it or lose it” when it comes to offshore leases, not advocate for increased access to restricted offshore areas.

But “use it or lose it” is already the law. There are provisions in all current leases that return them to government if sufficient activity doesn’t take place.

Given the millions of dollars companies must pay to obtain and maintain leases – and millions more to evaluate resource potential – it’s beyond ridiculous that there could be an incentive to not develop oil and gas to recover that investment.

The “use-it-or-lose-it” charge is a diversion from the real issue at hand – whether energy policy in this country supports the development of our own resources.

I’ve written before about how the federal government’s proposed five-year leasing plan keeps the vast majority of U.S. offshore areas off-limits to energy development, and that includes the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, nearly all of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and most Alaskan waters.

The challenge for domestic energy production is not that U.S. companies are ignoring the leases they have. It is that ExxonMobil and other companies have been denied access to some of the most promising acreage that could be developed for the benefit of the U.S. economy – in particular offshore.

Despite the fact that opening those areas to development could mean more than half a million jobs, Washington’s real approach to 85 percent of U.S. offshore lands isn’t “use it or lose it.” It’s more like, “you can’t use it at all.”


4 Comments

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  1. Bill Girtman says:

    It would be interesting to know how many leases have not seen “significant activity” and expiration dates to refute the sitting idle comments. Are they in fact just sitting or is there ongoing work that just makes it appear nothing is happening?

  2. patrick fiorito says:

    Mr. Cohen let me help you out. Although I am not some smart well educated individual. But one unique qualification I possess is the ability to see things from “ALL” socio-economic backgrounds. How am I able to do this? Because I have lived and witnessed the various ethnic groups, and economic groups. And here is the plain and simple truth Mr. Cohen. Until Corporations begin doing something to help the average person (or at the very least NOT try to introduce overly greedy legislation). The American people simply dont believe you. Big Oil has such a tarnished and dirty (as dirty as their oil) reputation for crassness, carelessness, and extreme levels of greed… Your words mean very little. By the way this wasnt meant as an insult. This was merely an insight. I believe in an America that is about prosperity, Not just profits. And its not just me, the entire consumer base is getting smarter, wiser but at the same time were more tolerant and willing to forgiving and especially willing to acknowledge when good deeds have been done. Its never too late for a company to change its practices to a “softer” more consumer friendly approach.

    • denise ward says:

      Patrick that is not enough. While we look at the fossil fuel companies greed, we can also look at our own complacency. We have to get off fossil fuels and should have done so decades ago. To ignore this fact is sending our climate into a tailspin and we just don’t know when the effects off too much CO2 is going to turn the switch to runaway climate change. Things on this earth could never be the same again. Oh we’ll have some ordinary days yes, but you may have learned about exponential growth? Once this happens it’s curtains for all of us and all the other species as well. We can’t keep burning this oil. And so stupidly we ignore the myriad of alternative renewable energies. With our level of technology, we could probably replace fossil fuels a lot sooner than we think. But better for everyone that we move off them gradually. The longer we leave the shift the steeper the cliff to having change forced on us. It’s up to humanity now and that consists of you and me.

  3. Thomas Adamczak says:

    The truth is the oil companies have done more then just sat on idle leases. As a friend of many oil field workers I have seen jobs lost and plenty of good wells capped with many yards of concrete. I am truly looking forward to the future. When Americans wake up. Ready to fight . When they elect a working man or woman into office. Get rid of all the greed and corruption in Washington. Elliminate all the Lobbiest. And put American interests #1. Not any other foreign country. USA. The 1 % rich are rich enough. There’s plenty of oil right here. And with all the technology here we can create the cheapest refining methods in the world. We need to control the cost of our energy to American consumers. The oil companies make billions in Volume. We also need to look at our other energy sources also.

  4. Bill Girtman says:

    It would be interesting to know how many leases have not seen “significant activity” and expiration dates to refute the sitting idle comments. Are they in fact just sitting or is there ongoing work that just makes it appear nothing is happening?

  5. patrick fiorito says:

    Mr. Cohen let me help you out. Although I am not some smart well educated individual. But one unique qualification I possess is the ability to see things from “ALL” socio-economic backgrounds. How am I able to do this? Because I have lived and witnessed the various ethnic groups, and economic groups. And here is the plain and simple truth Mr. Cohen. Until Corporations begin doing something to help the average person (or at the very least NOT try to introduce overly greedy legislation). The American people simply dont believe you. Big Oil has such a tarnished and dirty (as dirty as their oil) reputation for crassness, carelessness, and extreme levels of greed… Your words mean very little. By the way this wasnt meant as an insult. This was merely an insight. I believe in an America that is about prosperity, Not just profits. And its not just me, the entire consumer base is getting smarter, wiser but at the same time were more tolerant and willing to forgiving and especially willing to acknowledge when good deeds have been done. Its never too late for a company to change its practices to a “softer” more consumer friendly approach.

    • denise ward says:

      Patrick that is not enough. While we look at the fossil fuel companies greed, we can also look at our own complacency. We have to get off fossil fuels and should have done so decades ago. To ignore this fact is sending our climate into a tailspin and we just don’t know when the effects off too much CO2 is going to turn the switch to runaway climate change. Things on this earth could never be the same again. Oh we’ll have some ordinary days yes, but you may have learned about exponential growth? Once this happens it’s curtains for all of us and all the other species as well. We can’t keep burning this oil. And so stupidly we ignore the myriad of alternative renewable energies. With our level of technology, we could probably replace fossil fuels a lot sooner than we think. But better for everyone that we move off them gradually. The longer we leave the shift the steeper the cliff to having change forced on us. It’s up to humanity now and that consists of you and me.

  6. Thomas Adamczak says:

    The truth is the oil companies have done more then just sat on idle leases. As a friend of many oil field workers I have seen jobs lost and plenty of good wells capped with many yards of concrete. I am truly looking forward to the future. When Americans wake up. Ready to fight . When they elect a working man or woman into office. Get rid of all the greed and corruption in Washington. Elliminate all the Lobbiest. And put American interests #1. Not any other foreign country. USA. The 1 % rich are rich enough. There’s plenty of oil right here. And with all the technology here we can create the cheapest refining methods in the world. We need to control the cost of our energy to American consumers. The oil companies make billions in Volume. We also need to look at our other energy sources also.