The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) in March will offer for auction 38 million acres in the Central Gulf of Mexico (GOM), Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Monday.

According to BOEM, the proposed 7,250 blocks to be auctioned offshore Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama could result in 1.9-3.9 Tcf of natural gas and 0.46-0.89 billion bbl of oil. The blocks to be leased are three to 230 miles offshore in water depths ranging from nine to more than 11,115 feet (three to 3,400 meters).

The auction, to be held March 20 in New Orleans, would be the second in the Obama administration's Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017 and the first of five annual Central GOM lease sales.

"We are moving full speed ahead on the president's all-of-the-above energy strategy because the exploration and development of the Gulf of Mexico's vital energy resources will continue to help power our nation and drive our economy," said Salazar.

BLM's sale would build on two GOM lease sales in the past year. The Western Gulf Lease Sale 218 in December 2011, which made 21 million acres available and received high bids on tracts covering about one million acres, netted nearly $325 million (see Daily GPI, Dec. 15, 2011). Central GOM Lease Sale 216/222, held in June, covered nearly 39 million acres and attracted more than $1.7 billion in high bids for more than 2.4 million acres (see Daily GPI, June 21).

Western GOM Lease Sale 229, announced earlier this year, is scheduled to take place on Nov. 28 in New Orleans (see Daily GPI, July 24).

BOEM conducted an environmental review and published a final environmental impact statement with analysis to support decision-making for proposed Lease Sale 227 and other scheduled Western and Central GOM lease sales. The proposed terms "continue to include a range of incentives to encourage diligent development and ensure a fair return to taxpayers," BOEM said. "In addition, BOEM has implemented a new, streamlined format for sale notices, beginning with this sale, making the document more user-friendly and accessible to the public."

Proposed terms and conditions for the sale are available at www.boem.gov/sale-227.

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