(Bloomberg) — The U.S. is in the position to be energy-dominant, not just independent, thanks to fracking and plans to loosen drilling regulations, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Monday.
Oil production across the U.S. may increase by 17% to a record 10.24 million barrels a day by the end of next year as companies cut costs and become more efficient in drilling, especially in areas such as West Texas and North Dakota. Domestic output hasn’t surpassed 10 million barrels a day since 1970. At a time when OPEC and other producers are cutting output, U.S. exports surged above 1 million barrels a day for the first time.
“In 1983, I was told we’re going be out of oil and fossil fuels definitively in 2003. That’s not true,” Zinke said at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston. “And, you know, I always say God’s got a sense of humor — he gave us fracking. And fracking is a game-changer — certainly a global game-changer.”
Zinke is pushing forward President Donald Trump’s plans to expand oil and natural gas drilling and reconsider regulations that might limit development of U.S. natural resources. Trump on Friday ordered Zinke to revise a five-year schedule for auctioning offshore drilling rights with the aim of potentially including territory left out by former President Barack Obama.
“My task is to look at it look at where we’re going to make changes, recommendations across the board,” Zinke said. “The stars have lined up so we can create energy jobs."
Zinke signed two orders, one designating the creation of a counselor position to the Secretary for Energy Policy within the department, and the other directing the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to develop a new five-year plan for offshore exploration that reconsiders the regulations that currently govern those activities. The latter order will direct immediate development of outer-continental shelf leasing programs that open the door for drilling offshore Alaska, the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico.
He’s also looking at reorganizing the Interior Department, where, he says, in five years 40% of the employees will be retirement age.
“Right now we’re really senior, almost like an ice cream cone,” Zinke said. “This is a 100-year organization. About 100 years ago Teddy Roosevelt formed the park service. And what we’re trying to do is look at 100 years hence.”
Bloomberg News by Laura Blewitt