An important function of the Geological Survey is the evaluation and management of the mineral resources of the Outer Continental Shelf, particularly with respect to oil and gas, salt, and sulfur.
Production of oil and gas from the Outer Continental Shelf of the United States has increased substantially over the past 20 years and represents an increasing percentage of total United States production. As discovery of major onshore production of oil and gas has become more difficult, the search has moved into the surrounding waters where submerged sedimentary formations are conducive to the accumulation of oil and gas. Increased energy demands of recent years have accelerated the pace of offshore operations with a corresponding improvement in technology as exploration and development have proceeded farther from shore and into deeper water. While improved technology and enforcement of more stringent regulations have made offshore operations safer, it is unrealistic to believe that completely accident-free operations can ever be achieved.
Only slightly more than six percent of the world's continental terrace is adjacent to the United States, but less than one percent has been explored for oil and gas. Since the lead time for the development of offshore oil and gas resources can be as much as a decade, they do not provide an immediate energy supply but should be viewed in the light of a near-term source with a potential of becoming a medium-range source of supply pending the development of alternative energy sources.
Revenues from the Outer Continental Shelf are deposited to the general fund of the United States Treasury. A major portion of these funds is allocated to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the largest Federal grant-in-aid program of assistance to States, counties, and cities for the acquisition and development of public parks, open space, and recreation lands and water.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Mineral resource management of the Outer Continental Shelf : leasing procedures, evaluation of resources, and supervision of production operations on leased lands of the Outer Continental Shelf
United States Dept. of the Interior, Geological Survey,