U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said on Monday that the Department would offer 73 million acres offshore Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida for oil and gas exploration and development.
The proposed region-wide lease sale is scheduled for August 16, 2017, and will include all available unleased areas in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Secretary Zinke said: “Opening more federal lands and waters to oil and gas drilling is a pillar of President Trump’s plan to make the United States energy-independent. The Gulf is a vital part of that strategy to spur economic opportunities for industry, states, and local communities, to create jobs and home-grown energy and to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”
The Proposed Lease Sale 249, scheduled to be live streamed from New Orleans, will be the first offshore sale under the new Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022 (Five Year Program). It will include about 13,725 unleased blocks, located from three to 230 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 estimated amount of resources projected to be developed as a result of the proposed region-wide lease sale ranges from 0.211 to 1.118 billion barrels of oil and from 0.547 to 4.424 trillion cubic feet of gas.
Excluded from the lease sale are blocks subject to the Congressional moratorium established by the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006, blocks that are adjacent to or beyond the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone, and whole blocks and partial blocks within the current boundary of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.
Under the new Five Year Program, two region-wide lease sales are scheduled for the Gulf each year, where the resource potential and industry interest are high, and oil and gas infrastructure is well established.
Walter Cruickshank, the acting director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), said: “To promote responsible domestic energy production, the proposed terms of this sale have been carefully developed through extensive environmental analysis, public comment, and consideration of the best scientific information available. This will ensure both orderly resource development and protection of the environment.”
The lease sale terms 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. The Final Notice of Sale will be published at least 30 days before the sale.
BOEM estimates that the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) contains about 90 billion barrels of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and 327 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered technically recoverable gas. The 160 million acres of the Gulf, has technically recoverable resources of 48.46 billion barrels of oil and 141.76 trillion cubic feet of gas.
According to the Department of Interior, production from all OCS leases provided 550 million barrels of oil and 1.25 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in FY2016, accounting for 72 percent of the oil and 27 percent of the natural gas produced on federal lands. Furthermore, energy production and development of new projects on the U.S. OCS supported an estimated 492,000 direct, indirect, and induced jobs in FY2015 and generated $5.1 billion in total revenue that was distributed to the Federal Treasury, state governments, Land and Water Conservation Fund, and Historic Preservation Fund.
As of March 1, 2017, about 16.9 million acres on the U.S. OCS are under lease for oil and gas development (3,194 active leases), and 4.6 million of those acres (929 leases) are producing oil and natural gas. More than 97 percent of these leases are in the Gulf of Mexico; about 3 percent are on the OCS off California and Alaska.
The current Five Year Program [2012-2017] has one final Gulf lease sale scheduled on March 22, 2017 for Central Planning Area Sale 247. The 2012-2017 Five Year Program has offered about 73 million acres, netted more than $3 billion in high bids and awarded more than 2,000 leases.