Oil output on federal lands, offshore up under Obama, data show


Oil production on federal lands and offshore during the first three years of the Obama administration was 13 percent higher than from 2006 to 2008, according to new government data, though it did decrease somewhat between 2010 and 2011.

The new data from the Energy Information Administration, which produces nonpartisan energy data and reports, provided some relief to a White House that has taken a continual battering from Republicans in recent weeks. GOP lawmakers had alleged that President Obama’s policies have impeded U.S. oil production on federal lands and offshore, contributing to gasoline prices that have roughly doubled since he took office in early 2009.

The EIA report “confirms that the Obama Administration has overseen an overall expansion of production on federal lands and waters – as part of the nationwide rise in production levels,” Heather Zichal, White House energy and climate adviser, said in a statement.

Prior to the data’s release, Obama had noted that overall U.S. oil production is up under his watch. Republicans long responded that the increase has occurred on state and private lands that the president doesn’t control and that production in areas he does control decreased.

Then the EIA data came out, and the White House seized on them.

“Again, the facts speak for themselves,” Zichal said.

Prices at the pump have recently surged as ongoing Middle East concerns have forced up crude-oil prices, the major determinant of what drivers pay. Drivers in Houston were paying an average of $3.78 a gallon as of Friday morning, according to AAA.

Gasoline analysts say that presidents and lawmakers have virtually no influence over the complex array of global geopolitical factors that go into setting oil and gasoline prices and that policymakers have few short-term options, if any, to address the issue.

Saying no “short-term silver bullets” exist for pain at the pump, Obama has touted an “all-of-the-above” strategy involving more domestic oil and gas — though not as much as Republicans would like — as well as efficiency improvements and renewable energy to cut oil use. He argues that’s the best long-term solution to reduce U.S. vulnerability to price increases.

Obama and some Democrats have noted that boosting oil production alone won’t help bring lower gasoline prices.

“The prices that we are paying for oil and the products refined from oil such as gasoline are set on the world market,” said Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “They’re relatively insensitive to what happens in the United States with regard to production.”

Although the White House touts that the general trend is upward, a closer look at the EIA data show that oil production on federal lands and waters did decrease from 726 million barrels in 2010 to 627 million in 2011.

Republicans pounced on that figure. They have long insisted that Obama has limited access to federal lands and waters, put forth regulations that impede production, among other things.

“These non-partisan statistics show federal oil and natural gas productions are declining as President Obama’s anti-energy policies catch up with him,” Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement.

The EIA report said the latest data “reflect government actions taken following the 2010 Macondo disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.” The government has imposed tougher safety regulations and imposed a deepwater drilling moratorium that was lifted in October 2010. The deepwater moratorium has especially come under fire from Republicans who say it’s to blame for the decline in Gulf activity after the spill. Republicans and Obama administration officials with the Interior Department have sparred over a slowdown in the rate of offshore permitting.

The White House pointed to the Gulf spill and said that year-to-year fluctuations are common based on market conditions and industry decisions.

“Still, the overall trends show a clear picture of rising domestic production,” Zichal said.

Natural-gas production on federal lands has increased 6 percent since Obama took office from 2006-2008 levels, but offshore natural gas production decreased, according to the White House.

But Zichal said the offshore natural gas decrease reflects business decisions by industry to shift toward onshore shale-gas production in areas like the South and East.

“Still, total federal natural gas production (offshore + onshore) has largely kept pace overall with levels before the President took office,” Zichal said.

Puneet Kollipara

7 Responses

  1. Stanley7746 says:

    Paul Ponder
    The pipelines from the Gulf refineries are at capacity, the Gulf has an increase in production from new refineries, no pipeline capacity therefor you put your product on ships and export the refined product to South America helping our balance of trade numbers.

  2. Puneet Kollipara says:


    Perhaps you misread the story. Oil production on federal lands and waters was higher in the period from 2009-2011, not in the period from 2006-2008. These are numbers from the Energy Information Administration’s nonpartisan figures released this past week.

    My article also notes that oil production on federal lands and offshore between 2010 and 2011 decreased quite significantly — these are numbers that Republicans are pouncing on, suggesting they’re evidence that Obama’s policies haven’t supported oil-and-gas production on the lands the Interior Department agencies (BSEE, BOEM, BLM) have jurisdiction over. Meanwhile the White House is seizing on the general trend in the numbers.

    As for who is causing what to happen, that is why we quote the perspectives not just of the White House, but also of Democrats and Republicans in Congress.

  3. rellufnalla says:

    Every dollar of oil produced or refined here is worth three dollars of deficit reduction.

  4. Paul Ponder says:

    Explain to me why we should drill, refine and sell our oil overseas if it has no real impact on world prices.

  5. aeroguy48 says:

    Give me a break Puneet, you are either lieng or totally ignorant of the facts or just a shill for obama. The fact oil production was up 2006-2008 WAS not while obama was in office Bush was! Give me a break on these blatent lies! And I dont expect a correction of this propoganda either seeing how you took the falsehood and ran with the story.

  6. bubbabobcat says:

    Mike Foster, even though you can “first hand” vouch for your agenda, that is only one month’s worth of data. A statistically insignificant time frame relevant to the years that drilling production has increased under Obama.

    And the truth is permits have been issued, but it is the drilling companies who are not doing their part in “drilling on Federal lands”.

    “The Bureau of Land Management issued 4,090 drilling permits in fiscal 2010, but oil and gas operators drilled 1,480 new wells, using about 36 percent of permits issued.

    “The downturn in drilling on public lands is purely a function of internal corporate decisions and declining natural gas prices.”


    So, by your “logic” Mike Foster, the increased in drilling prodiction IS a result of the large number of permits issued under Obama but not acted on until years later. Also by your “logic”, the lower production in 2006-2008 was also attributable to the lower number of Federal permits issued in 2001-2007, also under the Bush Administration.

    Your “logic” supports President Obama. Try getting your facts straight and providing proof of them before you criticize anyone else on their veracity.

  7. Mike Foster says:

    Total baloney. It takes years to permit drilling on public lands. Thus the 2009 to 2011 increase is attributable to efforts undertaken during the previous administration.

    I can tell you first hand that 113 leases that were approved under Bsuh were canceled by Salazar during the Obama’s first month in office.

    A further lose of credibility stems from Obama’s continued reference to increased drilling on private land in North Dakota and Texas as an indicator of his support of oil and gas drilling when that drilling has taken place despite the efforts of his administration to shut down fracking.

    Would someone please write a fact based article for once instead of parroting Obama’s talking points?