THE WOODLANDS, Texas – Speaking at the plenary session of the Deep Offshore Technology conference, National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) President Randall Luthi said that the industry needs to be more proactive in getting its message out to officials in Washington, D.C. and the public at large.
Luthi reminded the audience that while the general view of Washington, D.C., may not be favorable at the moment, with regard to offshore regulations and access, “everything starts or stops in DC.”
He pointed out that while offshore permitting had not been affected by the shutdown, the pending US-Mexico Transboundary Agreement could be delayed. The agreement, which covers possible development on 1.5 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico, is still in conference in Congress and will ultimately need to be signed by the president.
Luthi also said that the industry needs to make its case more clearly and forcefully in the public arena regarding its efforts to preserve marine life and ecosystems. In too many cases, he argued, interest groups were hindering seismic surveys and other potential development efforts with arguments of damage to marine life, ignoring the industry’s efforts to preserve ocean life and ecosystems. The industry would do well to make these efforts more publicly known, he said.
Industry access to other US offshore areas outside the Gulf of Mexico was “still dismal,” Luthi noted. He said that the industry still cannot access 87% of the OCS lands – notably off the East and West coasts, and offshore Alaska. To make the point about the possible lost opportunities, he overlaid a map of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas on top of a map of the Gulf of Mexico. This demonstrated that the offshore Alaska region was approximately as large as the Gulf of Mexico’s producing area. The industry needs to maintain pressure on the federal government to open these areas for exploration. “There will be a time when the clock runs out,” he added.
He then turned to the question of Arctic development, an area where the “rest of the world gets it.” He pointed out that the Russian government had recently granted tax breaks to facilitate development in their offshore Arctic areas.
Luthi also noted that despite the recent shutdown, government officials continue to keep a keen eye on what has been happening in the Gulf of Mexico post Macondo, and the three safety incidents that have happened since then have been “duly noted” by regulators.
He added that a significant amount of current and planned development has been stymied by litigation, and he pledged that NOIA was doing its part in this arena to protect and promote offshore E&P activity.
In his concluding remarks, Luthi said to the audience: “Thank you for making our economy run.” Because of the oil and gas industry, “the US is on the verge of becoming the world leader in hydrocarbon development.”
“We are your staff in Washington, D.C.,” Luthi added. “Help us to tell your story.”