The Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is seeking stakeholder comments on eight planned oil and natural gas lease sales scheduled in the Central and Western Gulf of Mexico (GOM) over the next five years. The call for information does not include Lease Sale 229 in the Western GOM and Lease Sale 227 in the Central GOM because calls for comments and information on those two sales have already been completed.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar last week issued the final version of the department's Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017, which includes 10 potential lease sales in the Western and Central GOM and two in the portion of the Eastern GOM not currently under a congressional moratorium during the five-year period, as well as three potential lease sales in offshore Alaska (see Daily GPI, June 29).

The BOEM's call for information and nominations will help the agency determine the configuration of the eight lease sales, including the terms of the sales, according to BOEM. The call asks interested parties for information about potential leasing and development of these areas, including information about geological, environmental and biological conditions, as well as archaeological resources and socioeconomic factors and potential concerns about conflicts with other uses of these offshore resources.

The "announcement reinforces our commitment to promoting responsible offshore oil and gas development, and we are doing so with the early planning and consultation that helps ensure that we understand the full range of interests and concerns regarding lease sales under the program," said BOEM Director Tommy Beaudreau.

In a related development, BOEM also is initiating the next stage of environmental and socioeconomic analysis for Western GOM Lease Sale 233 and Central GOM Lease Sale 231, proposed for 2013 and 2014, respectively, with the publication of a notice of intent (NOI) to prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS).

The SEIS will build on the final environmental impact statement (FEIS) for the lease sales in the Western and Central GOM, which was issued Thursday (see Daily GPI, July 6). The FEIS provides baseline analysis in support of 10 lease sales scheduled in the Central and Western GOM, and it evaluates baseline conditions and potential environmental effects of oil and natural gas leasing, exploration and development in those two offshore regions.

The BOEM has asked federal, state and local government agencies, and other interested parties to comment on the scope of issues and possible alternatives to be considered as part of a SEIS for these sales.

Comments for the call must be received in envelopes labeled "Comments on the Call for Information and Nominations for Proposed CPA and WPA Lease Sales tentatively beginning with Lease Sale 233, in light of the United States/Mexico Agreement," and sent to Carrol Williams, Leasing and Financial Responsibility United, BOEM, Gulf of Mexico OCS Region, 1201 Elmwood Park Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70123-2394.

Written comments on the NOI are due within 30 days after the notice's publication in the Federal Register.

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