Policy Needed To Guide Natural Gas Regulation on Federal Lands

EMD-78-86: Published: Jun 15, 1979. Publicly Released: Jun 15, 1979.

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The management by the Department of the Interior of the exploration, development, and production of natural gas from federal lands in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) was studied. The Gulf of Mexico was chosen for the study because this region, which supplies almost all of the natural gas obtained from OCS areas, is responsible for about 18 percent of the nation's natural gas consumption.

The Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of the Interior have taken little or no action to develop an overall natural gas policy. The only government requirement affecting the pace of exploration and development is the law which requires a lessee to produce economical quantities of natural gas within 5 years or relinquish its lease. There are no requirements controlling how rapidly the natural gas should be extracted. Interior could not gauge whether lessees in the Gulf of Mexico had been diligent with respect to the level of production that could be achieved with the facilities installed.

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