Even Cuba Understands What's to Gain from Off-Shore Drilling

The Cubans recognize the benefits of drilling in the Gulf. Shouldn't we?

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Daniel Kish is the senior vice president for policy at the Institute for Energy Research.

One year ago, the Obama administration ended it's blanket offshore drilling ban. But it replaced its drilling moratorium with a permitorium. The bureaucrats said they were allowing drilling, but they granted very few permits and it took months to issue a permit for new drilling.

While the Obama administration is not keen on producing energy domestically, the Cubans of all countries are going to use the technology developed by American companies in the Gulf of Mexico to access their energy resources less than 100 miles from the coast of Florida. When Cuba recognizes an economic opportunity that the administration does not, we should pay attention.

[See a collection of political cartoons on energy policy.]

Even though one year has passed since the end of the moratorium, the administration is still issuing a reduced number of permits. Before the moratorium, the administration was issuing 72 permits per month and now, a full year after the moratorium supposedly ended, they are only issuing 52 permits per month.

Not only has the rate of issuing permits slowed, but the paperwork required to satisfy the administration's bureaucrats has increased exponentially. Before the moratorium, the average permit application was 30-40 pages long. Now a permit application is 3,600 pages long. This dramatic increase in bureaucratic paperwork will create some jobs—but only jobs for more lawyers and more bureaucrats. Creating more work for attorneys and bureaucrats does not help the economy grow.

The administration's byzantine permitting requirements have lead to drilling rigs leaving U.S. waters for countries that welcome energy production. Nearly 40 percent of the deepwater rigs that were in the Gulf of Mexico before the moratorium have left. These rigs could have drilled an additional 60 wells, created 11,500 jobs and generated $6.3 billion in private sector spending. Instead of realizing these positives, the Obama administration is exporting those jobs to other countries.

[Read: How Much Oil Is There?]

The economic benefits of energy production are clear. If Congress permanently lifts the moratoria on energy exploration and production in the Outer Continental Shelf, access to these vast resources would generate:

  • $8 trillion in additional economic output (GDP);
  • $2.2 trillion in total tax receipts;
  • 1.2 million new, well-paying jobs annually across the country; and
  • $70 billion in additional wages each year.
  • But while the Obama administration does not seem to grasp the benefits of job creation and economic growth created by energy production, the Cubans apparently do. According to NPR, geologists estimate there may be 5 billion to 20 billion barrels of oil off the coast of Cuba (between Cuba and Florida). In the past, these resources have been out of reach, but because of the deepwater drilling technologies developed by U.S. workers in the Gulf of Mexico, Cuba will be able to access these resources for the first time. A drill rig is en route from China to Cuba and could start drilling as early as November.

    It's not too often that you can say that we should look to Cuba for taking advantage of an economic opportunity, but when it comes to creating jobs and lowering the cost of energy through energy production, we should pay attention. Thousands of hard working Americans are out of work in the Gulf states because the administration isn't following Cuba's example. Now is the time to get these people back to work creating energy.

    • Read the U.S. News debate: Should offshore drilling be expanded?
    • See a collection of political cartoons on gas prices.
    • Read: Approving Keystone XL Pipeline Would Create Jobs and Lower Gas Prices