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MMS Gets Ball Rolling on Leasing in 181 Area

The Interior Department's Minerals Management Service (MMS) Wednesday took the first step in a process that is expected to culminate in oil and gas leasing in a small portion of the "181 Area" in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico Planning area.

In a notice, published in the Federal Register, the agency put out a call for comments to develop a supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS), which will update the environmental review that was completed in 2001 for the original 181 area. The area covered by the notice includes approximately 134 unleased blocks spanning 584,817 acres.

The proposed sale, termed Lease Sale 224 and tentatively scheduled for March 2008, was mandated by a new law that gives producers access to virgin territory in the eastern Gulf. The sale area will be located more than 125 miles off of the Florida coast and west of the Military Mission Line.

Comments on the proposed lease sale are due at the MMS by March 16.

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