State wants half of offshore drilling money

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 17, 2006

VIDALIA &8212; Louisiana lawmakers don&8217;t want all of the royalties collected from offshore drilling contracts.

Half would do just fine, thank you.

And they have a pretty good reply for anyone who laughs them down: That&8217;s what other states get.

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According to the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, states split mineral revenues with Washington 50/50. There is no such act addressing offshore oil and gas produced off the gulf coast&8217;s Outer Continental Shelf.

Currently, Louisiana receives 27 percent of the royalties brought in from contracts between 3 and 6 miles off the state&8217;s shores. From 3 miles and in, the state gets all of the revenues. From 6 miles out, it gets none.

The federal delegation would like to get those numbers changed to 50 percent of all revenues generated within 200 to 250 miles of the state&8217;s shores.

It&8217;s only fair, they say. In 2005, Wyoming collected $878 million from its half of mineral revenues.

&8220;In light of the OCS&8217; vital contribution to our nation&8217;s energy, economic and security needs, we should return a share of these revenues to the few states that sustain this critical energy supply,&8221; Sen. Mary Landrieu said in a policy brief.

Federal revenue from OCS for 2005 approached $6 billion.

In the 2005 Energy Bill, Congress allocated $1 billion to the coastal energy producing states, of which Louisiana received $135, or 54 percent. This number reflects the government&8217;s estimation of the state&8217;s share of oil and gas production.

If OCS states were operating under the same act as the mineral producing ones, Louisiana would have earned $1.52 billion &8212; half of 54 percent of $6 billion.