For project developers seeking the next big petro-play, some key news this week. With lawmakers in America moving to open one of the biggest swaths of new acreage in the history of the industry.
On Tuesday, the U.S. senate introduced three bills to expand areas accessible for oil and gas drilling -- targeting the eastern Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Ocean, and the Arctic.
The Gulf of Mexico acreage would be the nearest play at hand. With this week's bill contemplating allowing drilling in this area as early as 2017. Related: 3 Ways Oil Companies Can Survive Low Prices
Atlantic drilling would follow -- with that bill specifying three leasing sales to take place between 2017 and 2022. No timeline was given for Arctic drilling, which would be focused on three areas off the coast of Alaska.
These are the first concrete steps toward opening the eastern GOM and Atlantic to exploration. Which could create some big opportunities in these largely-untested waters. Related: Could This New Business Model Save Fracking?
Opportunities like carbonate plays in the eastern Gulf -- reservoir rocks which have been theorized to hold big oil and gas pools where they occur at depth in onshore locations like Texas.
The depths to target in those areas have so far precluded any comprehensive investigation. But geological studies suggest these formations may be more accessible in the parts of the Gulf the senate is moving to open. Related: The Latest Casualty In Energy’s Hardest Hit Industry
All of these plans of course still require full senate approval -- a step that is likely to be contentious (this week Florida Representatives filed separate legislation to ban seismic testing in waters around the state). But proponents of the new bills have added economic incentives to gain support for these measures. Including enhanced sharing of royalties with states that border drilling areas.
Watch for votes on all of these bills over the months ahead.
Here's to going east,
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Does anyone know how much seismic work has been done in the East GOM Basin and the East Coast Basin? The oil fields already found in the GOM Basin are tiny wrt the total area. Much cash and work will be needed.