The U.S. completed a draft environmental assessment for an oil and gas lease sale as soon as this year in the western Gulf of Mexico, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement said.
Seismic measuring of oil and gas off the U.S. Atlantic coast can be done safely under certain conditions, the government said in a report that marks a critical step toward drilling in an area off limits for decades.
Alaskan coastal drilling by oil companies including ConocoPhillips and Royal Dutch Shell Plc may be further delayed after a federal appeals court ruled the government acted illegally in opening almost 30 million acres on the continental shelf to energy exploration.
The offshore-energy industry has developed the resources to meet U.S. regulations imposed after the BP Plc oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, allowing additional exploration and leasing, the top federal regulator said.
Oil-lease auctions for the Gulf of Mexico should be halted because regulators failed to fully consider the risks revealed in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, according to a lawsuit filed by environmental activist groups.
The Obama administration remains slow in approving plans for deep-water oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the American Petroleum Institute , the largest energy trade organization in the U.S.