The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has finalized a lease sale scheduled for Aug. 19 to offer almost 22 million acres offshore Texas for oil and natural gas exploration and development. All available unleased areas would be offered in the Western Gulf of Mexico (GOM) Planning Area sale (see Daily GPI, March 3). Sale 246 is to include 4,083 blocks that cover roughly 21.9 million acres. The blocks are in waters nine to 250 nautical miles offshore, in depths 16 to 10,975 feet-plus. An estimated 538-938 Bcf of natural gas and 116-200 million bbl of oil could be produced on the acreage, according to federal estimates. The sale, to be held in New Orleans, would be the eighth sale under the Obama Administration's five-year Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017. The sales to date have offered more than 60 million acres and netted nearly $2.9 billion for taxpayers. Terms of the final notice of sale package may be requested from the GOM Region's Public Information Unit, 1201 Elmwood Park Blvd., New Orleans, 70123, or at (800) 200-GULF (4853).
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has been awarded the first geological and geophysical permit to ARKeX Ltd. to conduct an aerial mapping search over the Atlantic Ocean. The survey would acquire an airborne broadband gravity and magnetic survey over the Outer Continental Shelf blocks offshore the East Coast. The system uses a full tensor gradiometer to remotely map geological structures, potentially revealing the location of untapped oil and gas reserves (see Daily GPI, July 15). The company expects its planes to begin collecting data by the end of the year, with a mapping of the region taking up to eight months. Permits to allow seismic surveys of the Atlantic by separate companies remain in the queue for approval.
Kinder Morgan Inc. (KMI) is buying out Shell's equity interest in Elba Liquefaction Co. LLC, owner of the Elba Liquefaction Project proposed to be constructed and operated at the existing Elba Island LNG Terminal near Savannah, GA. KMI currently owns 51% of the joint venture with Shell holding the remaining 49%. Shell subscribes to 100% of the liquefaction capacity to be created by the project. Acquiring Shell's 49% stake will cost KMI about $630 million, bringing its total investment in all liquefaction and terminal facilities at Elba to about $2.1 billion.
Reiterating its call for "collaboration" between a pipeline and its customers and a "case-by-case" review of pipelines' proposed modernization cost trackers, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) rejected a bid by end users to set additional formal standards [PL15-1]. FERC upheld the standards in its policy statement issued earlier this year for interstate pipelines to recover through a surcharge or cost tracker certain costs associated with replacing old and inefficient compressors and leak-prone pipes. The cost trackers would enable the pipelines to expeditiously make infrastructure improvements to respond to government safety and environmental initiatives (see Daily GPI, April 16). The policy statement "will be most effective and efficient if designed according to flexible parameters that will allow for accommodation of the particular circumstances of each pipeline," FERC said.
Antero Resources Corp. plans to spud its first Utica Shale well in West Virginia in the third quarter with results expected by the end of the year, the company said. Antero acquired an additional 4,400 acres in the state during the second quarter. With that bolt-on, the company now holds 181,000 net acres of Utica rights outside of Ohio when combined with its assets in Pennsylvania. Antero, which has been discussing the possibility of a test of its Utica acreage in the state since last year, plans to drill the well in Tyler County (see Shale Daily, March 26, 2014).