Oil Production on Federal Lands Down Over Obama’s Term

March 23, 2012 - 12:04 PM
Oil Prices

In this photo taken with a long exposure, a pumping unit sucks oil from the ground near Greensburg, Kan. Tuesday, March 6, 2012. The nationwide average for regular unleaded slipped less than a penny to $3.764 per gallon on Tuesday, March 6,2012. That ended a streak of price hikes that began on Feb. 8. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

(CNSNews.com) – Oil production on federally owned lands has declined since President Obama took office in 2009 by 17,000 barrels per day, with the drop-off happening entirely in off-shore areas, where production has declined by 35,000 barrels per day since 2009.

In reality, the reduction under Obama is even steeper. Oil production on federal lands peaked in 2010 at 1.9 million barrels per day, before dropping off to 1.7 million in 2011, reducing the federal share of oil production by three percent.

The figures come from a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report on domestic energy production from March 20. That report finds that domestic oil production fluctuates from year-to-year, on both federal and non-federal lands. However, 96 percent of the increase in production since 2007 has taken place on non-federal lands.

“Oil production has fluctuated on both federal and non-federal lands over the past five years,” the report said. “About 96 percent of the increase took place on non-federal lands, but the overall federal share of total U.S. production fell only by about two percentage points over the 2007-2011 timeframe.”

On Thursday, Obama told a crowd in Cushing, Okla., that his administration was pro-drilling, saying his administration had opened up “million” of acres of federal land to increased oil production.

“Over the last three years, I’ve directed my administration to open up millions of acres for gas and oil exploration across 23 different states,” he said.

However, according to CRS, domestic production on federal lands has declined under Obama, down by 275,000 barrels per day since its 2010 peak.

Obama also claimed that his administration was opening up increased areas off-shore, saying that “we are drilling all over the place” and that America was producing more oil than it could handle.

“We’re opening up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources offshore,” Obama said. “So we are drilling all over the place – right now. That’s not the challenge. That's not the problem.”

While total domestic oil production is up by 230,000 barrels per day since Obama took office in 2009, none of that increase has come from federal lands, CRS reports. In fact, production is down sharply on federal lands since the BP oil spill in 2010, due entirely to the reduction in off-shore production.

Since 2009, off-shore oil production has fallen by 35,000 barrels per day. Like the overall production figures, the true off-shore decline is obscured by an increase in production from 2009-2010.

If one excludes the trend of increased off-shore production, Obama inherited and measures the decline in off-shore production from its highest point during his administration, off-shore oil production has fallen by 285,000 barrels per day.