The Private Sector, Not the Federal Government, Responsible for Increased Oil & Natural Gas Production

March 13, 2012

Western Energy Alliance Calls for More Transparency in Government Data

(DENVER) – Yesterday's one year progress report released by the White House marks the latest effort by President Obama to claim credit for increasing American oil and natural gas production. Yet the President's assessment misses the mark.

Thankfully, the private sector has been able to increase production, despite obstacles from the federal government. Increased American production is the result of:

  1. Private-sector investment in new resources such as the Bakken in Montana and North Dakota, and the Niobrara in Wyoming and Colorado
  2. Private-sector investment in new and advanced technologies
  3. Development on non-federal lands.

"The report conveniently avoids the nearly 15% decrease in oil production on federal lands. This Administration has made energy development on western federal lands increasingly difficult, time consuming, and cost prohibitive, which will affect production far into the future" said Kathleen Sgamma, Vice President of Government and Public Affairs for Western Energy Alliance. "Redundant regulation and bureaucratic obstacles have constrained domestic energy development, job creation and economic growth in communities across the West."

"Because of additional bureaucratic processes on federal lands, lead times range from five to ten years. North Dakota, which is the source of the huge increase in American oil production, would not have 3% unemployment and a billion dollar budget surplus if the Bakken formation were largely on federal lands. If the Bakken were on federal lands, it would be year five of a seven year federal environmental analysis with no production in sight."

While the private sector has increased overall American production, consistent data on federal production numbers is elusive. The Department of the Interior has released limited sets of data and talking points to select reporters, but has yet to fully publish the production data so that the public can fully understand the numbers. Western Energy Alliance calls on the Administration to provide more transparency in oil and natural gas production data.

Additional Resources:
According to the Institute for Energy Research (IER), total federal oil production was down in 2011, as was federal natural gas production in 2009, 2010 and 2011. The Institute shows FY 2011 federal oil production down 11% and natural gas production down 6%. Meanwhile, there was a 14% increase in oil and a 12% increase in natural gas production on private and state lands.

In separating the onshore from the offshore, Western Energy Alliance compiled these figures from the Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR). These numbers show a 14.7% decline in federal onshore oil production and half a percent increase in federal natural gas production.

Oil (in million bbl)112.1297.72-14.75%
Gas (in million mcf)2,9602,9740.5%
Source: Office of Natural Resources Revenue


About Western Energy Alliance
Western Energy Alliance, founded in 1974 as the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States, is a non-profit trade association representing 400 companies engaged in all aspects of environmentally responsible exploration and production of oil and natural gas in the West. More information on Western Energy Alliance and its members is available at