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Central, Eastern Blocks in GOM Offered For Oil, Gas Development

Nearly 45 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) will be offered in March to producers for oil and natural gas leasing, federal officials said Thursday.

The Department of Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) issued the final notice of sale package late Thursday for two auctions scheduled March 23 in New Orleans (see Daily GPISept. 14, 2015).

"As an important component of the U.S. energy portfolio, the Gulf of Mexico holds vast energy resources that can continue to spur economic opportunities for Gulf producing states as well as further reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil," BOEM Director Abigail Hopper said.

Central Planning Area Lease Sale 241 encompasses about 8,349 unleased blocks covering 44.3 million acres that are 3-230 nautical miles offshore Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, in water depths of 9-11,115 feet (3-3,400 meters).

Eastern Planning Area Lease Sale 226, the second of two proposed for the eastern region under the current five-year program, encompasses 162 whole or partial unleased blocks covering about 595,475 acres (see Daily GPIDec. 4, 2013). The eastern blocks are at least 125 statute miles offshore in water depths of 2,657-10,213 feet (810 to 3,113 meters) in an area south of eastern Alabama and western Florida; the nearest point of land is 125 miles northwest in Louisiana.

Most of the eastern region may not be offered for lease until 2022 as part of the GOM Energy Security Act of 2006. The act, which opened part of the Eastern GOM to leasing and development for the first time in years, provides revenue sharing for Gulf Coast states Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas that is to be used in restoring their receding coastal areas (see Daily GPI, Dec. 27, 2006).

The latest sales are part of the Obama administration's Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017. The first eight sales in the five-year program offered more than 60 million acres for development and garnered $3 billion in high bids.

"The decision to hold these sales follows extensive environmental analysis, public comment and consideration of the best scientific information available," BOEM said. "The terms of the sales include stipulations to protect biologically sensitive resources, mitigate potential adverse effects on protected species and avoid potential conflicts associated with oil and gas development in the region."

All terms and conditions for the lease sales are to be published in the Federal Register. Additional information is available from the GOM Region's Public Information Office, 201 Elmwood Park Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70123, or (800) 200-4853.

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