Secretary Sally Jewell Shines at OTC

Secretary Sally Jewell Shines at OTC

Sworn in Friday, April 12 at the Supreme Court of the United States, Secretary Sally Jewell, the 51st Secretary of the Interior, has hit the ground running, addressing important issues laid before the department, including energy development, conservation and youth engagement.

Secretary Jewell held a press conference at the 2013 Offshore Technology Conference Wednesday to introduce her and the department's agenda. 

"Our regulatory philosophy is to stay parallel with the industry as it develops, supporting our industry but making sure things are conducted in a safe manner," she said at the conference.

Jewell jumpstarted her professional career with Mobil Oil Corp. as a petroleum engineer. Prior to joining the Department of the Interior, Jewell served in the private sector, recently as President and Chief Executive Officer of Recreation Equipment, Inc. She joined the company as Chief Operating Officer in 2000 and was named CEO in 2005. Subsequently, she spent 19 years as a commercial banker.

"Part of my duties in this new position is to stay abreast of the technology that is moving forward fast, and how the department can do the best job possible in assisting the energy industry," she said.

She addressed several key issues during the conference, specifically how she felt about the diversity within the industry and what the department is doing in regards to opening new federal offshore waters in the Outer Continental Shelf.

"I don't see a good level of diversity in the industry," she lamented. "It's a huge issue in regards to young people, women and people of color. The industry has some work to do."

As for opening more acreage in the Offshore Continental Shelf, she mentioned her predecessor's five year program that expires in 2017. In August 2012, Secretary Ken Salazar gave final approval to the schedule of lease sales set out in the Proposed Final Program.

The department mentioned that while much of the Eastern Gulf is subject to a moratorium until 2022, Congress could choose to modify or eliminate the restriction. The area that is not available in upcoming lease sales is at least 125 miles off the Florida coast and is estimated to contain about 2/3 of the available oil and gas resources in the Eastern Gulf.

"More seismic work needs to be conducted for that area," chimed in Bureau of Safety Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) Director James Watson. "Existing seismic data of that area is 30 years old, so new data is extremely important."

The BSEE estimates of undiscovered, economically recoverable resources for the Gulf of Mexico areas proposed for Environmental Impact Scoping are:

  • Western GOM: 8-10 billion barrels of oil and 50-60 trillion cubic feet of natural gas
  • Central GOM: 25-28 billion barrels of oil and 100-130 trillion cubic feet of natural gas
  • Eastern GOM: approximately two-thirds of the 3-3.5 billion barrels of oil and 11-17 trillion cubic feet of natural gas

"The definition of deepwater is constantly evolving," Jewell said. "The key is do we have the technology available to develop these resources safely and responsibly."

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