U.S. gov’t to offer 78 million offshore acres for oil and gas exploration

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will offer approximately 78 million acres offshore Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida for oil and gas exploration and development.

Gulf of Mexico; Image source: Pixabay – under the CC0 Creative Commons license

The region-wide lease sale scheduled for Aug. 15, 2018, includes all available unleased areas in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, said: “We look forward to this important sale, as the Gulf of Mexico continues to be the crown jewel of the Outer Continental Shelf. A strong offshore energy program supports tens of thousands of well-paying jobs and provides the affordable and reliable energy Americans need to heat homes, fuel our cars, and power our economy.”

Lease Sale 251, scheduled to be livestreamed from New Orleans, will be the third offshore sale under the National Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022. Under this program, ten region-wide lease sales are scheduled for the Gulf, where resource potential and industry interest are high, and oil and gas infrastructure is well established. Two Gulf lease sales will be held each year and include all available blocks in the combined Western, Central, and Eastern Gulf of Mexico Planning Areas.

“Powering America and protecting the offshore environment are not mutually exclusive,” said Counselor to the Secretary for Energy Policy, Vincent DeVito.

“We can do both. American energy production can be competitive, while remaining safe and environmentally sound. This lease sale is just one piece of the Administration’s comprehensive effort to secure our Nation’s energy future.”

Lease Sale 251 will include approximately 14,622 unleased blocks, located from three to 231 miles offshore, in the Gulf’s Western, Central and Eastern planning areas in water depths ranging from nine to more than 11,115 feet (three to 3,400 meters). The Gulf of Mexico OCS, covering about 160 million acres, contains about 48 billion barrels of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and 141 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered technically recoverable gas.

Additionally, BOEM said it has included appropriate fiscal terms that take into account market conditions and ensure taxpayers receive a fair return for use of the OCS. These terms include a 12.5 percent royalty rate for leases in less than 200 meters of water depth, and a royalty rate of 18.75 percent for all other leases issued pursuant to the sale, in recognition of current hydrocarbon price conditions and the marginal nature of remaining Gulf of Mexico shallow water resources.

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