The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is preparing a lease sale for August that again would provide region-wide access to oil and natural gas producers across an estimated 78 million acres.
Lease Sale 253 would include all available unleased areas in federal waters across 14,699 unleased blocks from three miles to 231 miles offshore, in water depths of nine feet to 11,115 feet-plus (three to 3,400 meters).
The auction, to be live streamed from New Orleans, would be the fifth of 10 under the 2017-2022 National Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program. Two lease sales are scheduled each year for blocks in the combined Western, Central and Eastern GOM Planning Areas.
The Interior Department’s BOEM has held region-wide versus region-specific sales since the beginning of the Trump administration. In fact, Lease Sale 252, scheduled to be held in New Orleans next week, also is auctioning 78 million acres.
Excluded from the lease sales are blocks subject to the congressional moratorium established by the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006; blocks adjacent to or beyond the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone in the area known as the northern portion of the Eastern Gap; and whole blocks and partial blocks within the current boundaries of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.
The GOM OCS, covering about 160 million acres, is estimated to contain undiscovered, technically recoverable reserves that include about 141 Tcf of natural gas and 48 billion bbl of oil.
For leases in shallow waters, i.e., less than 200 meters of water depth, the terms include a 12.5% royalty rate. All other leases include a royalty rate of 18.75%.
Revenues received from OCS leases, including high bids, rental payments and royalty payments, are directed to the U.S. Treasury, the states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, as well as the Land and Water Conservation Fund and Historic Preservation Fund.
As usual, the leases would 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.
Terms for Lease Sale 253 are detailed in the BOEM information package. Copies of the maps may be requested from the GOM Region’s Public Information Unit at 1201 Elmwood Park Blvd., New Orleans, LA, 70123, or at 800-200-4853. The notice of availability also is to be published in the Federal Register.