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Florida Gets An Oil Drilling Pass

Florida will be exempt from the Trump administration’s new offshore drilling plans—a decision made after the state’s governor pleaded with Washington that it be excluded from future drilling leases because of its heavy dependence on coastal tourism.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said, “I support the governor’s position that Florida is unique and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver. As a result of discussion with Governor (Rick) Scott and his leadership, I am removing Florida from consideration for any new oil and gas platforms.”

It is likely that other coastal states could follow Governor Scott’s example now, after voicing their opposition to the administration’s plan to open up most of the U.S. continental shelf to oil and gas drilling. Environmental organizations and tourist industry groups have also voiced opposition to the plan.

Indeed, under the new National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for the period 2019 to 2024, some 90 percent of the outer U.S. shelf is set to be opened up to drillers as part of President Trump’s strategy for energy independence and dominance. The figure compares with an Obama ban on drilling that covered 94 percent of the shelf.

Related: Is The Current Oil Price Rally A “Head Fake?”

Besides Florida, the Interior Department, which is in charge of the lease program, excluded from the total a section in the eastern Gulf of Mexico that drillers have been interested in exploring—but not the whole eastern part, where the Department of Defense holds military exercises and has expressed concern about the opening up of part of the area for drilling.

Meanwhile, the Energy Information Administration estimated that U.S. crude oil production could hit 11 million barrels daily by late 2019, overtaking both Saudi Arabia and Russia. This year, the EIA said, U.S. drillers could pump an average 10.3 million barrels per day, with growth this year seen at almost 2 million bpd, slowing down to 1.3 million bpd in 2019.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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