10 Things You Didn't Know About Offshore Drilling

The oil spill in the Gulf has put new scrutiny on offshore drilling.

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1In the late 19th century, the first offshore drilling in the United States was conducted from rigs installed on wharfs extending 300 feet from shore near Santa Barbara, Calif.

2The U.S. petroleum industry first drilled successfully in open waters in the Gulf of Mexico in 1938.

3 Since 1953, the Department of the Interior has been responsible for leasing the outer continental shelf, or OCS, which includes all lands submerged between 3 and 200 nautical miles off the coast of the United States.

4Coastal states control the OCS within 3 nautical miles of shore.

5The first federal offshore oil and gas lease was granted on Oct. 13, 1954, in the Gulf of Mexico. A portion of the acreage from that lease continues to produce oil today.

6In 1981, Congress banned the expansion of offshore drilling. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush issued an executive order bolstering the ban, which was rescinded by President George W. Bush in 2008, spurred by rising gas prices.

7The Obama administration opened the nation's East Coast between Delaware and central Florida, and parts of the Gulf of Mexico and the Alaskan coast, excluding Bristol Bay, to oil exploration.

8The Minerals Management Service, the federal bureau in charge of OCS leasing, estimates that 39 billion to 63 billion barrels of oil, and 168 trillion to 294 trillion cubic feet of natural gas could be recovered from the proposed sites.

9 The government expects two new lease sales by 2012. The rest will be leased by 2017.

10Minerals Management collects $13.7 billion a year from leases.


New York Times

Mineral Management Service

Department of the Interior

The White House