BOEMRE announces first Gulf of Mexico oil and gas lease sale since Macondo

By Phaedra Friend Troy

The United States will hold its first Gulf of Mexico oil and gas lease sale since the Deepwater Horizon accident and Macondo oil spill.

Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) Director Michael Bromwich announced that the Western Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 218 is scheduled to be held on December 14, 2011 in New Orleans.

Including about 3,900 un-leased blocks, Lease Sale 218 will hold 20.6 million acres in the Western Gulf Planning Area, offshore Texas. The acreage includes waters from 9 to 250 miles offshore, in waters ranging from 16 to more than 10,975 feet deep.

BOEMRE estimates that the lease sale could generate 222 to 423 million barrels of oil and 1.49 to 2.65 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in production.

“This sale is an important step toward a secure energy future that includes safe, environmentally-sound development of our domestic energy resources,” Secretary Salazar said. “Since Deepwater Horizon, we have strengthened oversight at every stage of the oil and gas development process, including deepwater drilling safety, subsea blowout containment, and spill response capability. Exploration and development of our Western Gulf’s vital energy resources will continue to help power our nation and drive our economy.”

In a change since previous lease sales, BOEMRE is proposing to increase the minimum bid amount for blocks in waters more than 1,312 feet deep to $100 an acre. Previously, the minimum bid on those water depths was $37.50.

“BOEMRE is proposing this increase in an effort to ensure that areas with the greatest resource potential are developed, and to decrease the amount of leased acreage that is warehoused and goes unexplored,” Director Bromwich said. “The change in terms will better ensure that the nation’s resources are being developed in a timely manner.”

The minimum bid for leases in the more heavily explored shallower water depths remains $25 an acre.

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