Department Of Interior

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Office of the Secretary
Contact:Mark Pfeifle
For Immediate Release: November 24, 2003
New Natural Gas Finds Equivalent to Three Years of Electricity
Energy bill incentives will inspire more energy supplies to help families, says Secretary

(WASHINGTON) - Interior Secretary Gale Norton today cited a new estimate released by the Minerals Management Service that shows natural gas may be nearly three times more abundant in the deep shelf of the Gulf of Mexico than previously thought. Secretary Norton added that the Energy Policy Act currently before the U.S. Congress would spur production of this critically needed resource in the Central and Eastern Gulf off the coasts of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama.

"We now believe as much as 55 trillion cubic feet of natural gas exists in the deep shelf area of the Gulf of Mexico. If converted into electricity, 55 trillion cubic feet of natural gas could provide nearly a 3-year energy supply for every home in America," Secretary Norton said.

"However, significant technological challenges come with drilling 15,000 feet into the earth's crust, challenges that are expensive to overcome. The bipartisan energy bill provides incentives for the production of natural gas in the areas not Gulf of Mexico and helps maintain low prices and adequate supplies for American families. It's important that the bipartisan energy bill is passed and given to the President to sign."

According to the Minerals Management Service, increased gas production spurred by the deep gas incentives provided in the energy bill could save American families and businesses an estimated $325 million a year over the next 10 years by moderating price increases.

According to the Energy Information Administration, the demand for domestic natural gas is expected to grow by 54 percent over the next 22 years, while domestic production is not expected to keep pace.

In May of 2001, President Bush proposed a comprehensive national energy strategy, including more than 100 specific recommendations to increase conservation, protect the environment, develop new sources of energy, improve energy security and expand the use of new technologies.

"By promoting greater efficiency and cleaner energy technologies, the energy bill will help improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gases, protect our natural resources, and provide a cleaner, healthier environment for the American people. At the same time, it will help to ensure more affordable and reliable energy for America," Secretary Norton said.

Energy projects on federally managed lands and offshore areas supply about 28 percent of the United State's energy production. This includes 35 percent of our natural gas, 32 percent of our oil, 35 percent of our coal, 17 percent of our hydropower, 20 percent of our wind and 48 percent of our geothermal energy.


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