API uses Gulf of Mexico lease sale to push wider drilling

The American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry’s biggest trade group, said strong industry bidding in Wednesday’s latest Gulf of Mexico lease sale shows that the Obama administration should make more areas available for offshore oil-and-gas drilling.

The Interior Department attracted over $949 million in high bids in the sale, which covered tracts in a 2.4 million acre region of federal waters off the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

“The U.S. government could replicate this success by providing leasing opportunities in unexplored areas of the Outer Continental Shelf – like offshore Virginia, the eastern Gulf of Mexico, and the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas off Alaska,” said API President Jack Gerard in a statement Wednesday, calling it a way to bring in new revenues and create jobs.

The industry’s quick effort to call the sale evidence that more areas should be opened up underscores its ongoing lobbying push for more access. The Interior Department is expected to announce long-awaited plans on offshore access as soon as this month.

Also, the Obama administration has signaled that it is open to wider drilling as part of a broad climate change and energy bill.