As part of the Obama Administration's continued commitment to safe and responsible domestic energy production, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Abigail Ross Hopper says that the bureau will offer approximately 45 million acres for oil and gas exploration and development in the Gulf of Mexico in two March lease sales.
“These lease sales continue the president's commitment to create jobs through the safe and responsible exploration and development of the nation's domestic energy resources,” Hopper said. “As an important component of the US energy portfolio, the Gulf of Mexico holds vast energy resources that can continue to spur economic opportunities for Gulf producing states as well as further reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil.”
Central Planning Area Lease Sale 241 and Eastern Planning Area Lease Sale 226 will be held consecutively in New Orleans, Louisiana, on March 23. The sales will be the ninth and tenth offshore auctions under the Administration's Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012–2017 (Five-Year Program), which makes available areas with the highest-known resource potential for oil and gas leasing. These lease sales build on the first eight sales in the Five-Year Program that offered more than 60 million acres for development and garnered $3 billion in high bids.
“These Gulf of Mexico lease sales reflect this Administration's commitment to facilitate the orderly development of offshore energy resources while protecting the human, marine and coastal environments, and ensuring a fair return to American taxpayers,” Hopper added.
Sale 241 encompasses about 8,349 unleased blocks, covering 44.3 million acres, located from three to 230 nautical miles offshore Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, in water depths ranging from 9 feet to more than 11,115 feet (3 meters to 3,400 meters).
Sale 226 is the second of two lease sales proposed for the Eastern Planning Area under the current Five-Year Program. The sale encompasses 162 whole or partial unleased blocks covering about 595,475 acres in the Eastern Planning Area. The blocks are located at least 125 statute miles offshore in water depths ranging from 2,657 feet to 10,213 feet (810 meters to 3,113 meters). The area is south of eastern Alabama and western Florida; the nearest point of land is 125 miles northwest in Louisiana.
Most of the Gulf of Mexico Eastern Planning Area (EPA) cannot be offered for lease until 2022 as part of the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006.
The decision to hold these sales follows environmental analysis, public comment, and consideration of the best scientific information available. The terms of the sales 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.