U.S. lawmakers are feeling pressure from constituents as gasoline costs soar because of higher crude oil prices. The price of crude oil spiked this year in part because of ongoing unrest in the Middle East and North Africa, notably Libya.
Republican lawmakers have pressed for more work on domestic reserves after Washington in October lifted a moratorium that was set up after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Exxon Mobil announced two major oil discoveries and one natural gas discovery while drilling in 7,000 feet of water south of Louisiana.
Steve Greenlee, president of Exxon Mobil Exploration Company, said the recoverable resource potential in the area is more than 700 million barrels of oil equivalent.
"This is one of the largest discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico in the last decade," he said in a statement.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said in a statement the latest discovery is "good news" for U.S. energy independence. It does little, however, to address industry workers and energy consumers who "paid the price" for Washington's deep water moratorium.