The U.S. Interior Department and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced plans to assess the conventional and renewable energy resource potential in the Atlantic Ocean. The announcement is part of a five-year development plan for the Outer Continental Shelf.
Erik Milito, upstream director for the American Petroleum Institute, said the gesture is empty without plans for a lease sale off the Atlantic coast.
"This is a conversation starter that has been more than three years in the making but the path forward remains unclear," he said in a statement.
The U.S. government said it submitted a draft programmatic environmental impact statement for public comment that proposes seismic and other offshore surveys in the mid- and south-Atlantic.
"This analysis will move us forward toward developing an updated body of scientific information about the mid- and south-Atlantic regions that will support future decisions about potential conventional and renewable resource development," BOEM Director Tommy Beaudreau said.
Milito said much of the claims amounted to "political rhetoric" meant to provide assurances amid high oil and gasoline prices.
There's been no oil or natural gas production on the Atlantic shelf. A 1996 study estimated there were 7.2 billion barrels of oil and 27.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in undid undiscovered conventionally recoverable resources there.