Obama unveils oil drilling plan
Washington, May 15, 2011
US President Barack Obama has committed to annual oil and gas lease sales in Alaska's National Petroleum Reserve and to speeding up production in other areas.
In his weekly radio and Internet address, the US leader admitted that one of the biggest burdens for US consumers in recent months had been the high price of petrol - which is more than $4 a gallon in some areas.
"These increases in gas prices are often temporary, and while there are no quick fixes to the problem, there are a few steps we should take that make good sense," Obama said.
The president vowed to increase safe and responsible oil production from US resources, at the same time as enhancing safety and environmental standards.
"To do this, I am directing the Department of Interior to conduct annual lease sales in Alaska's National Petroleum Reserve, while respecting sensitive areas," Obama said.
Previously, oil and gas leases had taken placed periodically in the Alaskan National Petroleum Reserve, but not on an annual basis.
Obama also offered to speed up the evaluation of oil and gas resources in the mid- and south Atlantic and to lease new areas of the Gulf of Mexico.
He also pledged to unveil new incentives for the oil industry to develop unused leases which have already been acquired.
In many cases, oil and gas giants say the costs incurred in areas leased out by the government would result in prohibitively expensive costs to be fully explored and exploited.
A senior administration official however told reporters "drilling in the Arctic refuge is off the table and we do not support development there."