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Central GOM Lease Sale to Offer 7,788 Offshore Blocks

Producers will have the opportunity in March to bid on 41.2 million acres offshore Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama in the Central Planning Area of the Gulf of Mexico (GOM), the seventh auction under the current five-year Department of Interior leasing program.

Lease Sale 235 encompasses 7,788 unleased blocks, located from three to 230 nautical miles offshore Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, in water depths ranging from nine feet to more than 11,115 feet (up to 3,400 meters).

The proposed sale could result in up to 4 Tcf of natural gas production and 1 billion bbl of oil, according to Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) estimates.

The sale is scheduled for March 18 in New Orleans. In the last Central GOM sale (231), 42 companies submitted 380 bids on 326 blocks, mostly for deepwater prospects (see Daily GPI, March 19, 2014). The first six sales in the Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017 offered more than 60 million acres for exploration and development, garnering $2.4 billion in high bids.

The decision to hold the sale "follows extensive environmental analysis, public comment and consideration of the best scientific information available," Interior said. Sale terms "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."

The onshore production boom draws most of the headlines, but the GOM now contributes about 5% of gas and 18% of oil to U.S. production, BOEM said. The GOM also provided the "bulk of the $13.5 billion in mineral revenue disbursed to federal, state and American Indian accounts from onshore and offshore energy revenue collections in fiscal year 2014."

Terms and conditions for Lease Sale 235 are detailed in the final notice of sale in the Federal Register and on the BOEM website. The sale package and printed copies of the maps may be requested from the GOM Region's Public Information Office at 1201 Elmwood Park Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70123, or (800) 200-GULF (4853).

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