Technological Advancements Increasing Access to Oil and Gas in Atlantic OCS

A recent assessment from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) found that there has been a 42 percent increase in technically recoverable oil and a 20 percent increase in technically recoverable gas[1] in the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) since 2011, when the last assessment was conducted.  This amounts to a mean of 4.72 billion barrels of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and 37.51 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered technically recoverable natural gas[2] just off the east coast in the Atlantic. This massive increase in technically recoverable resources is yet another example of the increasing availability of fossil fuel resources in the United States, as extraction technology and further improvements in data analysis are fueled by market innovation.

Specifically, the BOEM report stated that these advancements allow ships to drill down to 12,000 feet of water depth and 40,000 feet of total depth. [DS1] Additional improvement in horizontal wells and multilateral completion systems that allow for drilling of multiple wells with in a single wellbore have also allowed for previously unreachable resources to be tapped and utilized.

BOEM’s report was optimistic about future resource recovery and stated that resource extraction will “…likely expand the envelope of producible oil and gas resources in very challenging environments”[3] such as the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), and that this report measured resources only taking existing technologies into account. Only the future can tell what future innovations will do to increase our access to natural resources and subsequently increase our quality of life.

New discoveries and technological advancements such as these have shown that the often-repeated mantra – that we are ‘running out of resources’ – is wearing thin. While “renewable” sources of energy such as solar, wind, and biofuels spent massive amounts of effort in Washington D.C. arguing for subsidies to further their technologies and policies that restrict their competitors, oil and gas companies have literally reshaped the energy landscape and turned the United States into the largest producer of oil[4] and gas[5] in the world.

This post was authored by IER Policy Associate, John Glennon. 

[1] Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Assessment of Undiscovered Technically Recoverable Oil and Gas Resources of the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf, 2014 Update,

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Energy Information Agency, International Energy Statistics,

[5] Id.

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