Kiran Stacey Big oil: Let us drill anywhere in the US

The main lobbyist for the US oil industry has called on the government to open up the entire country to drilling.

Answering Energy Source readers’ questions, Jack Gerard, head of the American Petroleum Institute, said opening up all limited areas would reduce imports, cut the trade deficit, lower prices and create jobs.

He said:

It is difficult to quantify how much increased production would affect imports, but if companies had access to all US areas now off limits, a substantial increase in domestic production would be possible.

He added:

We are disappointed by the severe restrictions that have been placed on offshore development by the government. Our offshore federally-controlled waters are rich in oil and natural gas resources. Other nations are developing their energy resources. We should be developing ours.

His call comes at a particularly sensitive time, with the president’s National Commission on the oil spill having called for stricter drilling controls in the wake of the BP oil spill.

The API criticised the commission’s report, saying:

This does a great disservice to the thousands of men and women who work in the industry and have the highest personal and professional commitment to safety.

But Gerard’s latest call, which would mean not only increased offshore drilling but also drilling in protected parts of Alaska, takes the argument further, urging the government to move in the opposite direction as suggested by the report.

President Obama had plans to open up parts of the Gulf of Mexico, the Arctic waters of Alaska and the south-eastern coast of the US, but dropped them after the BP spill.

The full Q&A session will be published on this blog later this morning.