Forty million acres offshore Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama are scheduled to be on offer next March for oil and natural gas development, federal officials said Monday.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) said the proposed sales are to include all available unleased areas in the Central and Eastern Gulf of Mexico (GOM) Planning Areas. The sales, to be held in New Orleans, would be the ninth and 10th under the Obama administration's Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017. The first eight sales offered more than 60 million acres and netted nearly $3 billion.
"As one of the most productive basins in the world, the Gulf of Mexico is a cornerstone of our domestic energy portfolio, offering vital oil and gas resources that further economic growth and continue to reduce our dependence on foreign oil," said BOEM Director Abigail Hopper. "This lease sale is another important step in promoting responsible domestic energy production through the safe, environmentally sound development of the Nation’s offshore energy resources, while ensuring a fair return to the American people."
Central Planning Area (CPA) Lease Sale 241 would include 7,919 blocks covering 42.1 million acres that are from three to 230 nautical miles offshore, in water depths of 9-11,000 feet-plus (three to 3,400 meters). The sale could result in the production of 460-894 million bbl of oil and 1.9-3.9 Tcf of natural gas, according to BOEM.
Eastern Planning Area (EPA) Lease Sale 226 is to include 175 blocks covering 595,475 acres. The blocks are at least 125 statute miles offshore in water depths of 2,657-10,213 feet (810 to 3,113 meters).
The EPA area is bordered by the CPA boundary on the west and the Military Mission Line on the east, which is south of eastern Alabama and western Florida; the nearest point of land is 125 miles northwest in Louisiana. The proposed sale could result in production of 71 million bbl of oil and 162 Bcf of natural gas.
The fiscal terms of the sales would "continue to ensure a fair return to taxpayers, and include conditions to encourage diligent development as well as ensure an appropriate balance of orderly resource development with protection of the human, marine and coastal environments," BOEM said.
The Department of Interior unit also has published the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the proposed sales, which updates several previously published environmental reviews covering the GOM and incorporates the latest available scientific information. The SEIS is available online and through the GOM Region's Public Information Office at 800-200-GULF (4853).
The decline in commodity prices has impacted BOEM's recent lease sales. In an auction held last March, covering blocks in the Central, Western and Eastern areas of the GOM, there were mixed results (see Daily GPI, March 19). Producers made 383 bids, mostly for deepwater leases, for Central and Western leases, but no bids were offered for blocks in the Eastern sale. Last month, only five producers participated in the Western Area GOM sale, the lowest number of bidders since area leasing began in 1983 (see Daily GPI, Aug. 19).