Oil from US government leases tops 1 billion barrels in 2019

Oil production from federally-managed lands and waters topped a record 1 billion barrels last year, U.S. officials told The Associated Press, as shorter permitting times and technological advances helped drive new development.

Critics charge that the gains being made by energy companies come at the expense of the environment, with fewer safeguards to protect the land and wildlife from harm.

The production figure was up more than 13 percent from 2018. It includes oil from onshore and offshore parcels and American Indian-owned lands managed by the U.S. Interior Department during fiscal year 2019, which ended Sept. 30.

Acting Assistant Secretary of the Interior Casey Hammond told AP that breaking the billion-barrel threshold marks a major milestone in the Trump administration’s drive to increase domestic energy production.

“You have to create an environment where folks want to bid on leases and then go develop them,” Hammond said. “One thing we can do as regulators is give people some assurances we’re going to work through the process in a fair and efficient way.”

Royalties collected by the government on oil production increased to $7.5 billion in 2019, according to Interior officials. That’s up 21 percent compared to 2018.

Roughly half of that money is returned to states where the oil is produced. The rest goes into the U.S. treasury.

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